Using satellite imagery to estimate heavy vehicle volume for ecological injury analysis in India.
International journal of injury control and safety promotion 2020
PubMed ID : 33234020
A major limitation of road injury research in low- and-middle income countries is the lack of consistent data across the settings, such as traffic counts, to measure traffic risk. This study presents a novel method in which traffic volume of heavy vehicles - trucks and buses - is estimated by identifying these vehicles from satellite imagery of Google Earth. For Rajasthan state in India, a total of ∼44,000 such vehicles were manually identified and geo-located on national highways (NHs), with no distinction made between trucks and buses. To estimate population living in proximity to NHs, defined as those living within 1 km buffer of NH, we geocoded ∼45,000 villages and ∼300 cities using Google Maps Geocoding Application Programming Interface (API). We fitted a spatio-temporal Bayesian regression model with the number of road deaths at the district level as the outcome variable. We found a strong Pearson correlation of 0.84 ( < 0.001) between Google Earth estimates of heavy vehicles and freight vehicle counts reported by a national-level study for different road sections. The regression results show that the volume of heavy vehicles and rural population in proximity to highways are positively associated with fatality risk in the districts. These effects have been estimated after controlling for other modes of travel.