Pan, G., Fu, L., Thakali, L., Muresan, M. (2018).An Improved Deep Belief Network Model for Road Safety Analyses. Proceedings of the Transportation Research Board conference, Jan 2018, US (accepted)
Crash prediction is a critical component of road safety analyses. A widely adopted approach to crash prediction is the application of regression-based techniques. The underlying calibration process is often time-consuming, requiring significant domain knowledge and expertise and cannot be easily automated. This paper introduces a new machine learning (ML) based approach as an alternative to the traditional techniques. The proposed ML model is called regularized deep belief network (DBN), which is a deep neural network with two training steps: it is first trained using an unsupervised learning algorithm and then fine-tuned by initializing a Bayesian neural network with the trained weights from the first step. The resulting model is expected to have improved prediction power and reduced need for the time-consuming human intervention. In this paper, we attempt to demonstrate the potential of this new model for crash prediction through two case studies including a collision data set from 800 km stretch of Highway 401 and other highways in Ontario, Canada. Our intention is to show the performance of this ML approach in comparison to various traditional models including negative binomial (NB) model, kernel regression (KR), Bayesian neural network (Bayesian NN), and traditional DBN. We also attempt to address other related issues such as the effect of training data size and training parameters.