Year of Publication

2016

Season of Publication

Summer

Paper Type

Master's Thesis

College

College of Computing, Engineering & Construction

Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)

Department

Engineering

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. School of Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Thobias Sando

Second Advisor

Dr. Christopher Brown

Third Advisor

Dr. Brian Kopp

Department Chair

Dr. Murat Tiryakioglu

College Dean

Dr. Mark Tumeo

Abstract

Merging from on-ramps to mainline traffic is one of the most challenging driving maneuvers on freeways. The challenges are further heightened for older drivers, as they are known to have longer perception-reaction times, larger acceptance gaps, and slower acceleration rates. In this research, VISSIM, a microscopic traffic simulation software, was used to evaluate the influence of the aging drivers on the operations of a typical diamond interchange. First, drivers were recorded on video cameras as they negotiated joining the mainline traffic from an on-ramp acceleration lane at two sites along I-75 in Southwest Florida. Several measures of effectiveness were collected including speeds, gaps, and location of entry to the mainline lanes. This information was used as either model input or for verification purposes. Two VISSIM models were developed for each site – one for the existing conditions and verification, and another for a sensitivity analysis, varying the percentage of older drivers and Level of Service (from A to E), to determine their influence on ramp operational characteristics. According to the results, there was a significant difference in driving behavior between older, middle-aged, and younger drivers, based on the measures of effectiveness analyzed in this study. Additionally, as the level of service and percentage of older adult motorists increased, longer queues were observed with slower speeds on the acceleration lanes and the right-most travel lane of the mainline traffic.

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