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Freeway traffic oscillations: Microscopic analysis of formations and propagations using Wavelet Transform


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  • Zheng, Zuduo
  • Ahn, Soyoung
  • Chen, Danjue
  • Laval, Jorge
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    In this paper we identify the origins of stop-and-go (or slow-and-go) driving and measure microscopic features of their propagations by analyzing vehicle trajectories via Wavelet Transform. Based on 53 oscillation cases analyzed, we find that oscillations can be originated by either lane-changing maneuvers (LCMs) or car-following (CF) behavior. LCMs were predominantly responsible for oscillation formations in the absence of considerable horizontal or vertical curves, whereas oscillations formed spontaneously near roadside work on an uphill segment. Regardless of the trigger, the features of oscillation propagations were similar in terms of propagation speed, oscillation duration, and amplitude. All observed cases initially exhibited a precursor phase, in which slow-and-go motions were localized. Some of them eventually transitioned into a well-developed phase, in which oscillations propagated upstream in queue. LCMs were primarily responsible for the transition, although some transitions occurred without LCMs. Our findings also suggest that an oscillation has a regressive effect on car-following behavior: a deceleration wave of an oscillation affects a timid driver (characterized by larger response time and/or minimum spacing) to become less timid and an aggressive driver less aggressive, although this change may be short-lived. An extended framework of Newell’s CF model is able to describe the regressive effect with two additional parameters with reasonable accuracy, as verified using vehicle trajectory data.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Transportation Research Part B: Methodological.

    Volume (Year): 45 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 9 ()
    Pages: 1378-1388

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:transb:v:45:y:2011:i:9:p:1378-1388

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    Keywords: Car-following behavior; Lane-changing maneuver; Stop-and-go traffic; Traffic oscillations; Wavelet Transform;


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    1. Zheng, Zuduo & Ahn, Soyoung & Chen, Danjue & Laval, Jorge, 2011. "Applications of wavelet transform for analysis of freeway traffic: Bottlenecks, transient traffic, and traffic oscillations," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 372-384, February.
    2. Newell, G. F., 2002. "A simplified car-following theory: a lower order model," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 195-205, March.
    3. Li, Xiaopeng & Peng, Fan & Ouyang, Yanfeng, 2010. "Measurement and estimation of traffic oscillation properties," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 1-14, January.
    4. Kim, T. & Zhang, H.M., 2008. "A stochastic wave propagation model," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 42(7-8), pages 619-634, August.
    5. Castillo, Jose M. del, 2001. "Propagation of perturbations in dense traffic flow: a model and its implications," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 367-389, May.
    6. Newell, G. F., 1993. "A simplified theory of kinematic waves in highway traffic, part I: General theory," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 281-287, August.
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    Cited by:
    1. Zheng, Zuduo, 2014. "Recent developments and research needs in modeling lane changing," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 16-32.
    2. Chen, Danjue & Laval, Jorge & Zheng, Zuduo & Ahn, Soyoung, 2012. "A behavioral car-following model that captures traffic oscillations," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 46(6), pages 744-761.
    3. Lv, Wei & Song, Wei-guo & Liu, Xiao-dong & Ma, Jian, 2013. "A microscopic lane changing process model for multilane traffic," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 392(5), pages 1142-1152.
    4. Chen, Danjue & Ahn, Soyoung & Laval, Jorge & Zheng, Zuduo, 2014. "On the periodicity of traffic oscillations and capacity drop: The role of driver characteristics," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 117-136.


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