A consecutive crash series is composed by a primary crash and one or more subsequent secondary crashes that occur immediately within a certain distance. The crash mechanism of a consecutive crash series is distinctive, as it is different from common primary and secondary crashes mainly caused by queuing effects and chain-reaction crashes that involve multiple collisions in one crash. It commonly affects a large area of road space and possibly causes congestions and significant delays in evacuation and clearance. This study identified the influential factors determining the severity of primary and secondary crashes in a consecutive crash series. Basic, random-effects, random-parameters, and two-level binary logistic regression models were established based on crash data collected on the freeway network of Guizhou Province, China in 2018, of which 349 were identified as consecutive crashes. According to the model performance metrics, the two-level logistic model outperformed the other three models. On the crash level, double-vehicle primary crash had a negative association with the severity of secondary consecutive crashes, and the involvement of trucks in the secondary consecutive crash had a positive contribution to its crash severity. On a road segment level, speed limit, traffic volume, tunnel, and extreme weather conditions such as rainy and cloudy days had positive effects on consecutive crash severity, while the number of lanes was negatively associated with consecutive crash severity. Policy suggestions are made to alleviate the severity of consecutive crashes by reminding the drivers with real-time potential hazards of severe consecutive crashes and providing educative programs to specific groups of drivers.
Keywords: consecutive crash; crash severity; multi-level model; traffic hazard; unobserved heterogeneity.