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Probabilistic assessment of road vehicle safety

in windy environments

J.Th. Snbjo rnsson

a,

, C.J. Baker

b

, R. Sigbjo rnsson

a

a

Engineering Research Institute, University of Iceland, Hjardarhaga 2-6, 107 Reykjavk, Iceland

b

School of Engineering, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

Available online 28 March 2007

Abstract

Several wind- and weather-related accidents of road vehicles occur every year, especially at exposed

locations where topographical features magnify the wind effects. The most notable ones involve high-

sided vehicles. The objective of this paper is to investigate parameters inuencing wind-related

accidents of road vehicles. A general probabilistic model, based on reliability approach, is outlined and

applied for assessment of road vehicle stability in windy environments. The numerical model is dened

on a nite set of basic variables with prescribed probabilistic characteristics. The basic variables are

wind velocity and direction; frictional coefcient; camber of the road and vehicle speed. The accident

point is dened in the space of basic variables and the probability of accident is assessed. The theory

presented is applied to a multitude of scenarios to explore the interrelation between the various basic

variables and how they affect the probability of accident given in terms of the so-called accident index.

The analysis demonstrates that wind-related accidents are the consequence of a combination of several

basic variables as represented by the accident index. The study suggests that available methods of

probabilistic mechanics and theory of reliability can be of value for analysis of wind-related trafc

accidents and potential applications of the presented methodology are outlined.

r 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Wind; Pressure; Aerodynamics; Road vehicles; Dynamics; Reliability; Accident risk; Safety index

1. Introduction

In the developed countries worldwide, road accidents are causing more injuries and

casualties than any other man-made or natural hazard. The associated socio-economic

ARTICLE IN PRESS

www.elsevier.com/locate/jweia

0167-6105/$ - see front matter r 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.jweia.2007.02.020

Corresponding author. Tel.: +354 525 4128; fax: +354 525 4140.

E-mail address: jonas@hi.is (J.Th. Snbjo rnsson).

consequences are of growing concern for the responsible authorities (Blaeij et al., 2003).

The natural wind does inuence the road accident risk in various ways. A recent study in

Iceland (Tho rdarson and Snbjo rnsson, 2004), at a windy location, indicates that wind

may be a causative factor in up-to 20% of road accidents at that location. However,

accident reports may not express this fact accurately in all cases.

The state of knowledge on the engineering aspects of wind-related accident risk of road

vehicles is under constant development and has been established through many papers and

reports dealing with accidents measures (Baker, 1994; ARC, 1997). In an accident risk

analysis (Blaeij et al., 2003; Lindberg, 2005), the key instruments used can be summarised

as follows: (1) severity or cost are intended to quantify the extent of harm; (2) probability

gives the rate of occurrence of events that creates accidents and (3) risk expresses the

impact of accidents in terms of cost and rate of occurrence.

In the present paper, we do not go into the cost issue and touch, therefore, only

indirectly upon the concept of risk, which has strong socio-economic relations through the

complex issue of acceptability of risk. Our concern is mainly the quantication of

probabilities as a measure of the rate of occurrence of accidents.

The central objective of this paper is to present a comprehensive model, in general

probabilistic settings, of road vehicle safety in windy environments. Special emphasise is

put on cross-wind conditions. This includes a presentation of the engineering mechanics

aspects dealing with the equations of motion accounting for the aerodynamic actions and

non-linear effects related to the frictional contact problem arising from the properties of

the road surface and tyres. The quantication of the probability of accident is hence

derived using appropriate stability criteria including side slip and overturning limit states.

The theoretical outline is followed by a numerical study to quantify and visualise the

effects of the basic variables on the probability of accidents.

2. Modelling

The procedure adopted herein for the assessment of road vehicle accidents consists of

the following four main steps: (1) denition of basic variables that are modelled as

independent stochastic variables; (2) numerical model of the vehicle is obtained including

frictional contact between road surface and tyres; (3) denition of suitable performance

criteria that ensure stability and controllability of the vehicle; (4) assessment of stochastic

wind-induced response followed by a quantication of the probability of accident.

Formally, in the following the probability of safety, P

S

, is dened as: P

S

1P

A

, where

P

A

is the probability of accident. It should be stressed that P

S

dened in this way should

not be used to represent probability of safe driving in the corresponding derived

environmental conditions. In that case, introduction of a reasonable safety margin should

be applied, corresponding to conservative estimates of near-accidents.

2.1. On the basic assumptions

The equations of motion of the coupled vehicle-road system in windy environments

have been put forward by several investigators with a various degree of renement (Guo

and Xu, 2006; Chen and Cai, 2004; Baker, 1991, 1994). These equations contain

the mechanical properties of the environment and the vehicle, and some even model the

ARTICLE IN PRESS

J.Th. Snbjornsson et al. / J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. 95 (2007) 14451462 1446

psycho-physiological characteristics and reactions of the driver (Baker, 1988, 1994;

Maruyama and Yamazaki, 2006; Chen and Ulsoy, 2001).

In this study, the emphasis is to develop a model that gives a balanced measure of

accuracy considering the various uncertainties in the mechanical, aerodynamic and

environmental properties.

The basic forces of mechanical origin accounted for in the modelling of road vehicles in

windy environment are as follows:

Gravity forces are due to the attraction induced by the gravitational eld of the

Earth. Hence, the gravity forces are static and induce the reference state for which

the dynamic response is measured from. In dening the gravity force components,

it is important to account for the slope and camber of the road. They may both

contribute directly to reduction of stability of vehicle performance through the tyre

reaction forces.

Elastic and damping forces are primarily related to the suspension system and the tyres

of the vehicle. In the following, we assume that the deformations of the body of the

vehicle are negligible compared to that of the suspension system.

Inertia forces are due to changes in vehicle speed and direction. These include the so-

called centrifugal forces that arise when vehicle is driving through curves.

Frictional forces are contact forces that act between the tyres and the road surface and

provide the necessary stability for controllability and safe performance. These forces are

treated in the following as being non-linear which is related to loss of road contact of

the wheels.

Aerodynamic actions are due to the relative motion of the vehicle and the air. Wind

velocity and direction as well as vehicle speed and direction are required to dene the

aerodynamic forces in addition to the shape of the vehicle and the surrounding

topography of the road.

The coordinate system adopted in this study is dened in Fig. 1. The origin of the

coordinate system is located at the centre of gravity of the vehicle. The equations of motion

are referred to the centre of gravity, which leads to decoupling of the inertia terms.

The actuality of the vector system shown in Fig. 1 has been tested in full scale

by attaching a sonic anemometer to the roof of a driving car (see Fig. 2). The anemometer

recorded the effective airow above the roof of the car (V, W), whereas the vehicle

speed (R), driving direction (f) and momentary geographical location of the car is

recorded simultaneously with a GPS receiver. An example of these recordings is

shown in Fig. 3. The layout of the road is given through measured latitude and

longitude, and the evaluated driving direction. The variables R, V and W shown in Fig. 1

are measured relative to the driving direction. Using the vector relation displayed in Fig. 1,

the wind velocity and wind direction can then be evaluated, as demonstrated in Fig. 3.

Although some vehicle-induced turbulence is clearly added to the natural turbulence in

the evaluated wind velocity, the results are found to compare well with xed recording

stations in the vicinity, which validates the vector relation put forward in Fig. 1.

Furthermore, they give a good view of how variable the wind can be along a relatively

short stretch of road.

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J.Th. Snbjornsson et al. / J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. 95 (2007) 14451462 1447

ARTICLE IN PRESS

Fig. 1. Denitions (a) coordinate system applied in this study, with origin located in centre of gravity and sign

conventions for aerodynamic actions on the vehicle. (b) Addition of the velocity vectors, where R represents the

relative velocity of air caused by the vehicle speed, U is the mean wind velocity, f is wind direction, u and v are the

horizontal turbulence components (the vertical w-component is not shown), V is the effective wind velocity and W

is the angle of incidence. It is assumed for simplication that the mean wind is acting in the horizontal xz-plan.

Fig. 2. A xed weather station and a car equipped with a sonic anemometer attached to the roof and a GPS

receiver for positioning during recordings in route.

J.Th. Snbjornsson et al. / J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. 95 (2007) 14451462 1448

2.2. Aerodynamic actions

The aerodynamic forces and moments are dened as follows:

F

x

1

2

rC

F

x

AV

2

drag force;

F

y

1

2

rC

F

y

AV

2

lift force;

F

z

1

2

rC

F

z

AV

2

side force;

M

x

1

2

rC

M

x

AV

2

h rolling moment;

M

y

1

2

rC

M

y

AV

2

h yawing moment;

M

z

1

2

rC

M

z

AV

2

h pitching moment; 1

where r is the density of air, A is the reference area, V is the reference speed taken as the

relative velocity of the air (see Fig. 1), h is the reference arm, C

F

x

; C

F

y

; C

F

z

are force

ARTICLE IN PRESS

Fig. 3. An example of a 9 min long segment from measurements with a sonic anemometer attached to the roof of

a driving car, which is equipped with a GPS receiver.

J.Th. Snbjornsson et al. / J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. 95 (2007) 14451462 1449

coefcients and C

M

x

; C

M

y

; C

M

z

are moment coefcients. The force and moment

coefcients are dependent on the selection of the reference parameters. In the

following, the reference area, A, is taken as the frontal area of the vehicle and the

reference height, h, is the height of the centre of gravity above the surface of the road. That

implies that the point of action used for the aerodynamic forces and moments is the centre

of gravity.

In the general case, when the reference wind speed is selected as the mean wind

velocity blowing in the mean wind direction, the force and moment coefcients can be

represented as a multi-dimensional stochastic process. This process has a complex

correlation structure, which presently is not well known. Recent full-scale experiments

on the cross-wind forces on trains (Baker et al., 2004) suggest high degree of

correlation between rolling moment and side force, and pitching moment and lift force

with values of the correlation coefcient around 0.95. The correlation between side

and lift force is poorer (in the range 0.800.85) because the uctuations are to some

extent caused by different ow mechanisms. However, the above mentioned full-scale work

on trains suggested that a second order quasi-steady assumption can work quite well to

relate uctuating wind velocities to uctuating forces. Therefore, due to lack of

information on the multi-dimensional aerodynamic action process, we adopt a simplied

model where the force and moment coefcients are represented as deterministic functions

depending only on the mean wind direction. The stochastic nature of the aerodynamic

action process is then accounted for by treating the wind velocity as a locally stationary

Gaussian process.

The aerodynamic coefcients adopted for the present study are based on formulas from

(Baker, 1987, 1994), but modied according to results from wind tunnel experiments

carried out by Coleman (Coleman and Baker, 1994). The coefcients are expressed as

follows:

C

F

x

0:51 sin3W,

C

F

y

0:751:5 0:9 cos4W 0:6 cos2W,

C

F

z

5:5 sinW,

C

M

x

2:2 sinW,

C

M

y

7:2 sin

2

W,

C

M

z

1:01 cos4W, 2

where W is the angle of incidence dened in Fig. 1. The coefcients are referred to

the centre of gravity and the coordinate system dened in Fig. 1. These coefcients are

plotted in Fig. 4 along with wind tunnel data. It is seen that the agreement is fair. The

above coefcients are an enhancement of the earlier relationships put forward by Baker

(1987, 1994).

It should be noted that the aerodynamic characteristics of vehicles under crosswinds

do not only depend on the shapes of the vehicles but also on the aerodynamics

of the infrastructure, such as bridges and embankments (see for instance Suzuki

et al., 2003). In addition, any aerodynamic data is to some degree dependent

upon the technique and methodology used to acquire that same data (Baker and

Humphreys, 1996). A single unied set of aerodynamic coefcients may, therefore, be an

unrealistic goal.

ARTICLE IN PRESS

J.Th. Snbjornsson et al. / J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. 95 (2007) 14451462 1450

2.3. Contact between tyres and road surface

The operational safety and controllability is governed by stable static contact between

tyres and road surface (Bradley et al., 2004). This is assumed acquired by frictional forces,

which unfortunately depend on several environmental factors, such as precipitation and

temperature (see for instance Xu and Guo, 2003).

Friction is a contact property that is divided into static friction and kinetic friction.

Static friction refers to the case when there is no slip between the contact surfaces. Kinetic

friction, on the other hand, describes the case when the two surfaces, i.e. tyre and road, are

moving with respect to each other. The friction is commonly modelled applying the

following simplifying assumptions (Gillespie, 1992):

The magnitude of the frictional force is proportional to the normal force acting on the

contact surface.

The magnitude of the frictional force is independent of the size of the area of contact.

The magnitude of the frictional force is independent of the direction of action.

The magnitude of the frictional force is independent of the velocity of motion.

These assumptions do not fully represent the real situation, as is the case with most

engineering models, however, they lead to a simple and practical approximation given by

ARTICLE IN PRESS

Fig. 4. Aerodynamic coefcients for high-sided lorry. The solid curves refer to Eq. (2) and the circles are wind

tunnel data from Coleman and Baker (1994).

J.Th. Snbjornsson et al. / J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. 95 (2007) 14451462 1451

the following expression:

F

i

mN

i

, (3)

where F

i

is the frictional force transmitted by wheel no. i, N

i

is the vertical force in

suspension no. i and m is the frictional coefcient. The frictional coefcient can either be

interpreted as the static frictional coefcient, m

S

, or the kinetic frictional coefcient, m

K

. In

general, we can assume that m

S

4m

K

. The difference between the two depends on the road

surface and types of tyres. In the case of wet or icy surface, the difference can be great, but

is normally small for dry road surfaces.

The frictional forces have to resist lateral and longitudinal wind forces arising from the

aerodynamic action, traction forces, acceleration forces and deceleration (braking) forces.

Furthermore, a rolling wheel requires a certain amount of frictional resistance to prevent

the surface of contact from slipping. Hence, the amount of traction, which can be obtained

for a given tyre on a particular road surface, is dened by the static frictional coefcient. If

the wheel is locked and slides, the friction is controlled by the kinetic frictional coefcient,

which is smaller than the static one (Gustafsson, 1997). In the following, we assume that

the frictional coefcient is the static coefcient if not otherwise stated.

The rolling resistance is assumed given by the following equation:

F

R

mgf

R

, (4)

where f

R

is the rolling resistance coefcient (Gillespie, 1992), that is generally dependent on

the driving velocity, m is the spring mass of the vehicle and g is acceleration of gravity.

The limit state of safe performance is checked using the friction circle, radius of which is

dened by Eq. (3), by requiring that the traction eld is inside this circle (Gillespie, 1992).

2.4. Basic variables

The quantities governing the motion of the vehicle are in most cases uncertain, that

means they cannot be determined with nite certainty. Depending on the degree of

uncertainty, these quantities are in this study either modelled as stochastic variables or

deterministic parameters. The stochastic variables selected in this study are the wind

velocity and wind direction (measured relative to the direction of the vehicle), vehicle

speed, frictional coefcient and camber of the road (see Table 1). In all cases, the basic

variables are taken as being normally distributed, except in the case of the friction

coefcient which is assumed, on physical grounds, to be a positive quantity. Hence, for

simplication it is taken as being truncated normally distributed. Quantities describing the

ARTICLE IN PRESS

Table 1

The basic variables used in this study

Name of quantity Basic variables Notation Distribution

Wind velocity X

1

U Normal

Wind direction X

2

W Normal

Coefcient of friction X

3

m Truncated normal

Driving speed X

4

R Normal

Camber of road X

5

e Normal

J.Th. Snbjornsson et al. / J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. 95 (2007) 14451462 1452

mechanical properties of the vehicle are taken as deterministic parameters. Other variables

used in modelling the behaviour of the vehicle are treated as derivatives. Their

distributions deviate from normality when the system behaviour becomes non-linear

which may be the case when the vehicle approaches instability.

2.5. On the limit states of safe performance

The limit states of safe performance can be dened in terms of loss of controllability and

stability. Typically, loss of controllability will result in difculty to follow a specic lane on

the road, while loss of stability implies overturning or loss of traction resulting in side slip.

The solution of the equations of motion along with appropriate stability criteria denes

the limit states of safe performance in terms of a response hyper-surface in the space of

basic variables. This can be written formally as

f X f X

1

; X

2

; X

3

; . . . X

n

0, (5)

where X {X

1

, X

2

, y} refers to the above dened stochastic basic variables. In fact, this

hyper-surface of safe performance divides the space of basic variables in two sub-spaces,

that is a safe domain, D

S

fx : f x40g, and an unsafe or accident domain,

D

A

fx : f xo0g.

The present study utilizes the following stability criteria:

side slip of all four wheels,

side slip of front wheels,

side slip of rear wheels and

rollover.

The side slip of a given wheel is checked using the equilibrium equation of acting and

resisting horizontal forces through the following criterion:

f

F

y

2

F

x

F

R

2

q

mN

i

, (6)

where F

y

is the total side force, F

x

is the frontal drag force, F

R

is the rolling resistance

(friction) from Eq. (4), m is the frictional coefcient and N

i

is the axial force acting on wheel

no. i. If f40 then there is no slip, if fo0 the wheel will slip and critical state is emerging

which potentially may result in an accident, if f 0 the state is indifferent and the stability

latent (neutral). This model is used to quantify the rst three of the above-mentioned

criteria.

The state of potential rollover arises when one wheel looses road contact (Baker, 1986).

The potential point of rollover can be reached if the friction is high enough to prevent slip.

This happens when the moment created by the wind-induced forces exceeds the resisting

moment due to gravity. Then the relative velocity is given as follows:

V

rollover

2amg

rAhC

M

x

hC

F

z

aC

F

y

s

, (7a)

where m is the mass of the vehicle, g is acceleration of gravity, a is half of the lateral

distance between the centres of the wheels, r is the density of air, A is the frontal area and h

is the height of the centre of gravity. The force coefcients have to be evaluated using the

ARTICLE IN PRESS

J.Th. Snbjornsson et al. / J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. 95 (2007) 14451462 1453

angle of incidence (see Figs. 1 and 3). The critical wind velocity can be obtained as

U

rollover

RcosW

V

2

rollover

R

2

sin

2

W

q

, (7b)

where W denotes the wind direction relative to the driving direction. It should be noted that

the above equation would only produce real values for the wind speed provided that we

have V

2

rollover

XR

2

sin

2

W.

2.6. Quantication of accidents

The probability of accident can now be assessed as follows (Sigbjo rnsson and

Snbjo rnsson, 1998). The stochastic basic variables dened above, X {X

1

, X

2

, y},

are transformed into (independent) normalised Gaussian variables, U {U

1

, U

2

, y},

implying that U

i

can be treated as normally distributed with zero mean and unit standard

deviations. The response hyper-surface, Eq. (5), can be expressed formally in the

normalised variable space as

f

g

U f

g

U

1

; U

2

; U

3

; . . . U

n

0. (8)

The point on the response surface with the highest probability density is dened as the

accident point, u

A

, that is the most probable point on the surface. In the normalised space,

this is the point on the response surface that is closest to zero. The Euclidean norm of the

basic variables at the accident point, measured in the normalised space, is a measure of the

probability of an accident. This leads to the following denition of the accident index, b,

(Sigbjo rnsson and Snbjo rnsson, 1998)

b signn

A

u

A

u

A

u

A

p

,

u

A

2 fu : f

g

u 0g,

n

A

nu

A

2 fn : n rf

g

ug, 9

where n denotes the normal to the response hyper-surface and o denotes scalar

multiplication.

It should be stressed that the accident index can be both positive and negative. Positive

b-values correspond to 0oP

A

o0.5, b 0 gives P

A

0.5 and negative b-values yield

0.5oP

A

o1, where P

A

is the probability of accident which can be approximated as follows:

P

A

Fb, (10)

where F denotes the standardised Gaussian distribution function.

In general, the limit state of safe performance cannot be expressed in terms of a single

function. Hence, the hyper-surface of safe performance is modelled as a set of functions

where each function corresponds to a particular stability criterion as described above.

From a computational view, this leads to one safety index for each limit state function. The

lowest of those safety indices corresponds to the point on the combined response hyper-

surface with the highest probability density, i.e. the most probable accident point in the

space of basic variables.

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J.Th. Snbjornsson et al. / J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. 95 (2007) 14451462 1454

3. Numerical study

3.1. Overturning

Rollover velocity can be dened as the wind velocity which results in aerodynamic forces

that give a rollover moment greater than the restoring moment provided by gravity forces

(see Eq. (7a)). Evaluating Eq. (7a) in a deterministic fashion gives the relation between

driving velocity, wind velocity and wind direction that is shown in Fig. 5. As can be seen by

inspecting Fig. 5, the critical rollover wind velocity is reduced by increased driving velocity

for wind directions below 901 to a minimum of about 20 m/s for wind directions of about

601. However, for wind directions above 901, the critical rollover wind velocity increases

with increased driving velocity. Clearly, overturning can only be expected for wind

directions between 301 and 1201. This is as expected, since the effective velocity vector is a

combination of the wind vector and the vehicle driving speed vector as demonstrated in

Fig. 1. At the same time, Fig. 5 is both a demonstration of predicted behaviour and a test

of the underlying mechanics of the model applied.

3.2. Cases studied

The combinations of parameters applied for the basic variables in this study are given in

Table 2. The study further assumes that the basic mechanical quantities of the road vehicle

used are the same as for the lorry found in Coleman and Baker (1994).

Figs. 610 show the interrelation between the various basic variables and how they affect

the accident risk, herein measured via the so-called accident index, b, dened in Eq. (9).

Each Figure shows a three-dimensional view of the accident index as a function of two pre-

chosen variables with the other three, xed around certain mean value with a prescribed

standard deviation.

Fig. 6 demonstrates the interrelation between wind velocity, wind direction and the

accident index. It is seen that the probability of accident increases with increased wind

velocity, and for wind velocity above 30 m/s, P

A

exceeds 0.5 for a wide range of wind

directions. Otherwise, b is at minimum for wind direction around 901, although it is not a

clear cut picture because of the aerodynamic coefcients and the fact that the driving speed

affects the effective angle of incidence to a varying degree depending on the wind velocity.

For certain conditions, it is therefore conceivable that b is reduced with increased driving

speed relative to the wind velocity (Baker, 1987). This can, for example, be seen in Fig. 7,

which displays the relationship formed by driving speed and wind direction as parameters

in the accident index. As in Fig. 5, it is seen that b safety decreases with increased driving

speed for wind directions below 901, but increases with increased driving speed for wind

directions above 901. This means that although decreased driving speed generally reduces

the probability of accident when the wind is blowing towards the front of vehicle. The

opposite is true in cases where the wind is blowing at the back of the car, then increasing

the vehicle speed increases safety. Furthermore, it is seen that b is primarily inuenced by

the driving speed for wind directions below 901.

Fig. 8 illustrates the association between driving speed and wind velocity in generating

the accident index. In principle, increased wind velocity decreases b, although for wind

velocities around 25 m/s b is almost constant; but for wind velocities around and above

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J.Th. Snbjornsson et al. / J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. 95 (2007) 14451462 1455

30 m/s, the probability of accident increases rapidly especially for the higher driving

speeds.

Fig. 9 shows the accident index as a function of driving speed and frictional coefcient.

It clearly demonstrates the dramatic inuence of frictional resistance on the driving safety.

For snowy and icy condition, i.e. for friction coefcient below 0.4, the probability of

ARTICLE IN PRESS

Fig. 5. Two plots demonstrating the relation between rollover wind velocity, wind direction and driving velocity

as evaluated deterministically using Eq. (7a).

J.Th. Snbjornsson et al. / J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. 95 (2007) 14451462 1456

accident is about 0.5 or more for a wide range of driving velocities at the wind velocity of

25 m/s and wind direction of 601.

Fig. 10 depicts the interaction of driving speed and road camber on the accident index.

On traditional straight two lane highways, the road is highest in the middle and then slopes

towards the embankments on each side. As can bee seen in Fig. 10, the road camber can

have signicant effect on driving safety. In fact, the conditions may be quite different

depending on which lane the vehicle is driving, even when driving in the same direction.

For instance, decreasing the vehicle speed down to 60 km/h for camber of 0.035, results in

a b value of the same order as for 90 km/h on ground with zero camber. The effect of

ARTICLE IN PRESS

Table 2

Characteristic parameters for the stochastic variables

Name of quantity Notation Range of mean values Standard deviation

Wind velocity (m/s) U 0:7.5:112.5 2

Wind direction (1) W 8:4:40 0.15U

Coefcient of friction m 15:15:165 7.5

Driving speed (km/h) R 0.1:0.1:0.7 0.05

Camber of road e 0.045:0.01:0.045 0.005

Fig. 6. The accident index as a function of wind velocity and wind direction. The mean values used for the other

basic variables are as follows: V 90 km/h, W 601, m 0.5 and e 0.035.

J.Th. Snbjornsson et al. / J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. 95 (2007) 14451462 1457

ARTICLE IN PRESS

Fig. 7. The accident index as a function of driving speed and wind direction. The mean values used for the other

basic variables are as follows: U 25 m/s, e 0.035 and m 0.5.

Fig. 8. The accident index as a function of driving speed and wind velocity. The mean values used for the other

basic variables are as follows: W 601, e 0.035 and m 0.5.

J.Th. Snbjornsson et al. / J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. 95 (2007) 14451462 1458

ARTICLE IN PRESS

Fig. 9. The accident index as a function of driving speed and friction coefcient. The mean values used for the

other basic variables are as follows: U 25 m/s, W 601 and e 0.035.

Fig. 10. The accident index as a function of driving speed and road camber. The mean values used for the other

basic variables are as follows: U 25 m/s, W 601 and m 0.5.

J.Th. Snbjornsson et al. / J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. 95 (2007) 14451462 1459

camber on the measurements of aerodynamic coefcients as indicated in Coleman and

Baker (1994) is not addressed herein.

It can be informative to study the behaviour of the basic variables to see how they adjust

as the limit state is reached. Such observation reveals, which variables are contributing

most to the accident index. Studying the overturning accident limit state (rollover criteria),

the friction and camber are found to be relatively inactive parameters. The active

parameters, considering the limit state values, are primarily wind velocity and driving

speed. For the slip accident limit state (slip on at least two wheels), different behaviour is

seen as the friction and camber values are adjusted throughout the convergence process,

according to the freedom given by their assigned standard deviation. Their values at the

accident limit state seem to depend primarily on the wind velocity. The friction values at

low wind velocities go down, whereas for the higher wind velocities no adjustment is

needed and the friction approaches its predened mean value. The camber is similarly

adjusted to increase probability of accident at low wind velocities, whereas the predened

mean value is approached for the higher wind velocities. The limit state wind velocity and

driving velocity largely follow their mean values.

4. Discussion and conclusions

An outline of a general probabilistic model is presented for assessment of road vehicle

stability in windy environments. The model presented herein is an extension and

improvement of model developed earlier by Sigbjo rnsson and Snbjo rnsson (1998). The

numerical model is dened on a nite set of basic variables with prescribed probabilistic

characteristics. The basic variables are wind velocity and direction; frictional coefcient;

camber of the road and vehicle speed. The limits of safe performance are discussed and the

accident point is dened in the space of basic variables and the probability of accident is

assessed. The theory presented is applied to a multitude of scenarios to explore the

interrelation between the various basic variables and how they affect the probability of

accident or the so-called accident index. The analysis demonstrates how wind-related

trafc accidents are the consequence of a combination of several basic variables as

represented by the accident point.

The probability of accident increases with increased wind velocity, although for wind

velocities around 25 m/s the accident index, b, is almost constant but for wind velocities

around 30 m/s P

A

exceeds 0.5 for a wide range of wind directions, especially for higher

driving speeds. The accident index is generally at minimum for wind direction around 901,

although it is not a clear-cut picture because of the aerodynamic coefcients and the fact

that the driving speed affects the effective angle of incidence to a varying degree, depending

on the wind velocity.

Although decreased driving speed generally reduces the probability of accident when the

wind is blowing towards the front of vehicle, the opposite is true when the wind is blowing

at the back of the car when increasing the vehicle speed increases safety. However, b is

primarily inuenced by the driving speed for wind directions below 901.

The frictional resistance has dramatic inuence on the driving safety, and may warrant a

more detailed modelling. Unfortunately, although considerable information is available on

the characteristics of friction, information on the mechanics of frictional resistance of tyres

to side forces under driving conditions is limited.

ARTICLE IN PRESS

J.Th. Snbjornsson et al. / J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. 95 (2007) 14451462 1460

Similarly, the road camber can have signicant effect on driving safety, making the

driving conditions quite different depending on which lane the vehicle is driving, even

when driving in the same direction.

The results herein correspond generally well with the results of other investigations, such

as Baker (1986, 1994), however, a direct comparison is difcult since this study deals with

the probabilistic aspects of road vehicle performance exposed to wind which is an

approach not generally applied in other studies known to the authors.

There are several aspects of this and related studies that could benet from more reliable

information and further modelling renement. The aerodynamic properties of road

vehicles are of great importance but at the same time not well established for cross-wind

conditions. The same is true for the frictional characteristics between road and tyre. Also, a

more elaborate model of the coupled vehicle-road system can be used. However, this study

represents a probabilistic analysis considering the various uncertainties of the mechanical,

aerodynamic and environmental properties applying a simplied balanced model.

The study suggests that available methods of probabilistic mechanics and theories of

reliability can be of value for analysis of wind-related trafc accidents. Using methods of

this type to set up computer simulations to analyse scenarios can be helpful in post-

evaluation of accidents and to improve the design of roads and highways. For instance, it

is possible to analyse the accident index at locations where wind data is available along the

road systems.

The Road Authority in Iceland has installed data acquisition systems along the

highways at several locations to monitor weather conditions and trafc. The data is made

available as an online information system for drivers on the Internet and on computer-

controlled information boards along the roads. Based on the wind data gathered by these

stations, time series of accident index can be evaluated at each monitoring location. This

can then be used as input in statistical analysis of the probability of wind-related accidents

along the roads in question and correlated with accident reports. This type of information

should at least give a more complete view on the wind-related hazard for road vehicles

than is currently available and could even be used to point out potential accident spots as

well as to devise and evaluate preventive measures to improve trafc safety in windy

environment.

Acknowledgments

This work was in part supported by a research grant from RANNUM (The Icelandic

Research Board for Trafc Safety).

References

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funded by The US Army TARDEC: http://www.umtri.umich.edu/erd_soft.

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Baker, C.J., 1987. Measures to control vehicles movements at exposed sites during windy periods. J. Wind Eng.

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Baker, C.J., 1988. High sided articulated vehicles in strong cross winds. J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn. 31 (1).

Baker, C.J., 1991. Ground vehicles in high cross windsParts I, II and III. J. Fluid Struct. 5.

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