Impact of heavy vehicles on surrounding traffic characteristics

Moridpour, Sara; Mazloumi, Ehsan; Mesbah, Mahmoud
June 2015
Journal of Advanced Transportation;Jun2015, Vol. 49 Issue 4, p535
Academic Journal
This work examines the impact of heavy vehicle movements on measured traffic characteristics in detail. Although the number of heavy vehicles within the traffic stream is only a small percentage, their impact is prominent. Heavy vehicles impose physical and psychological effects on surrounding traffic flow because of their length and size (physical) and acceleration/deceleration (operational) characteristics. The objective of this work is to investigate the differences in traffic characteristics in the vicinity of heavy vehicles and passenger cars. The analysis focuses on heavy traffic conditions (level of service E) using a trajectory data of highway I-80 in California. The results show that larger front and rear space gaps exist for heavy vehicles compared with passenger cars. This may be because of the limitations in manoeuvrability of heavy vehicles and the safety concerns of the rear vehicle drivers, respectively. In addition, heavy vehicle drivers mainly keep a constant speed and do not change their speed frequently. This work also examines the impact of heavy vehicles on their surrounding traffic in terms of average travel time and number of lane changing manoeuvres using Advanced Interactive Microscopic Simulator for Urban and Non-Urban Networks (AIMSUN) microscopic traffic simulation package. According to the results, the average travel time increases when proportion of heavy vehicles rises in each lane. To reflect the impact of heavy vehicles on average travel time, a term related to heavy vehicle percentage is introduced into two different travel time equations, Bureau of Public Roads and Akçelik's travel time equations. The results show that using an exclusive term for heavy vehicles can better estimate the travel times for more than 10%. Finally, number of passenger car lane changing manoeuvres per lane will be more frequent when more heavy vehicles exist in that lane. The influence of heavy vehicles on the number of passenger car lane changing is intensified in higher traffic densities and higher percentage of heavy vehicles. Large numbers of lane changing manoeuvres can increase the number of traffic accidents and potentially reduce traffic safety. The results show an increase of 5% in the likelihood of accidents, when percentage of heavy vehicles increases to 30% of total traffic. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


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