A method is suggested for evaluating the effectiveness of variable speed limits in reducing freeway crash potential. The real-time crash prediction model that was developed in earlier studies was used to estimate crash potential for different control strategies of variable speed limits. To mimic realistic responses of drivers to changes in speed limits, a microscopic traffic simulation model was used. The simulation results indicate that total crash potential over the entire freeway segment could be significantly reduced under variable speed limit control with a minimal increase in travel time compared to the fixed speed limit. The methodology for assessing safety benefits of variable speed limits is illustrated, and findings from the experiment that used a simple freeway segment are presented.
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