Traffic flow parameters || Traffic engineering

Traffic engineering pertains to the analysis of the behaviour of traffic and to design the facilities for the smooth, safe and economical operation of traffic. Understanding traffic behaviour requires a thorough knowledge of traffic stream parameters and their mutual relationships.

Traffic stream parameters

The traffic stream includes a combination of driver and vehicle behaviour.

  1. Speed

Speed is considered as a quality measurement of travel as the drivers and passengers will be concerned more about the speed of the journey than the design aspects of the traffic.

  • Spot Speed
  • Running speed

Time mean speed and space mean speed

Time mean speed is defined as the average speed of all the vehicles passing a point on a highway over some specified time period. Space mean speed is defined as the average speed of all the vehicles occupying a given section of a highway over some specified time period.

  1. Flow

There are practically two ways of counting the number of vehicles on a road. One is flow or volume, which is defined as the number of vehicles that pass a point on a highway or a given lane or direction of a highway during a specific time interval.

Types of volume measurements

  1. Average Annual Daily Traffic(AADT)
  2. Average Annual Weekday Traffic(AAWT)

III. Average Daily Traffic(ADT)

  1. Average Weekday Traffic(AWT)
  2. Density

Density is defined as the number of vehicles occupying a given length of highway or lane and is generally expressed as vehicles per km/mile.

Derived characteristics

Time headway

The microscopic character related to volume is the time headway or simply headway. Time headway is defined as the time difference between any two successive vehicles when they cross a given point.

Distance headway

Another related parameter is the distance headway. It is defined as the distance between corresponding points of two successive vehicles at any given time.

Travel time

Travel time is defined as the time taken to complete a journey.

Time-space diagram

Time space Diagrame
Time space Diagrame
Distance time Diagrame
Time space Diagrame

Relation of traffic parameter

Speed is one of the basic parameters of traffic flow and time mean speed and space mean speed are the two representations of speed.

1. Time mean speed (vt )

2. Space mean speed (vs )

Fundamental diagrams of traffic flow

The flow and density varies with time and location. The relation between the density and the corresponding flow on a given stretch of road is referred to as one of the fundamental diagram of traffic flow. Some characteristics of an ideal flow-density relationship is listed below:

  1. When the density is zero, flow will also be zero,since there is no vehicles on the road.
  2. When the number of vehicles gradually increases the density as well as flow increases.
  3. When more and more vehicles are added, it reaches a situation where vehicles can’t move. This is referred to as the jam density or the maximum density. At jam density, flow will be zero because the vehicles are not moving.
  4. There will be some density between zero density and jam density, when the flow is maximum.
Flow density curve
Flow density curve

Speed-density diagram

Similar to the flow-density relationship, speed will be maximum, referred to as the free flow speed, and when the density is maximum, the speed will be zero. The simplest assumption is that this variation of speed with density is linear.

Speed density curve
Speed density curve

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