Severity of vehicle-to-vehicle accidents in the UAE: An exploratory analysis using machine learning algorithms

Praveen Maghelal, Abdulrahim Haroun Ali, Elie Azar, Raja Jayaraman, Kinda Khalaf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies road traffic injuries as a global health problem. The Eastern-Mediterranean region is particularly suffering from low traffic safety levels, recording the third highest death per capita ratio in the world. It is critical to evaluate and understand the causes of crashes and their severity levels as a first step to devising policies that aim to reduce these causes. Previous studies examining the frequency or severity of crashes present important limitations that motivate the need for the current work. While these studies have investigated the relation of contributing factors to severity of crashes, not until recently the importance of these factors are bring investigated. Even then, less research have explored various Machine Learning models and none in the middle-eastern region. This is critical because the WHO report concludes that the chances of dying in a traffic crash in this region are second only to Africa per 100000 population. This is a first study analyzing the severity of vehicle-to-vehicle crashes among drivers in the United Arab Emirates. Traffic Crash Data was obtained from the Abu Dhabi Police, which consisted of 11,400 observations during the period 2014–2017. Machine learning algorithms, including gradient boosting (GB), support vector machines (SVM), and random forest (RF), were trained and tested to predict crash severity and extract (using feature analysis) its determinants. The models were evaluated using two performance metrics: prediction accuracy and F1-scores. The RF model outperformed both GB and SVM, with the confusion matrix of RF reporting a better prediction for all four crash severity classes. The feature importance analysis indicates that the age of car, age of the injured, and the age of the initiator have the highest effect on severity, which is an important finding as the listed factors were rarely considered in previous studies. Vehicle and road characteristics such as vehicle class, crash type, and lighting are slightly associated with the severity. Consistent with other studies, gender was the least essential predictor of severity. Recommendations are finally provided to the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport (AD-DMT) authority to guide the development of road safety policies and countermeasures to mitigate the occurrence and severity of crashes.

Original languageBritish English
Article numbere20694
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Crashes
  • Machine learning
  • Random forest
  • Severity
  • United Arab Emirates


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