A Simplified Algorithm to Assess the Impacts of Driver Behavior on Delay andSafety in Work Zone Areas

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Proceedings of the 85th Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting


National Academy of Sciences

Publication Date



This paper describes how work zones account for 24 percent of nonrecurring congestion, 2 percent of roadway crashes, and over 1,000 fatalities per year. In order to reduce congestion and increase safety in work zones, transportation professionals formulate and evaluate alternative work zone strategies using simulation tools. While such tools as FHWA’s QuickZone provide high-level estimates of delay reduction for candidate work zone management strategies, current simulation tools do not accurately represent work zones due in part to limitations of existing car following and lane change algorithms. To aid in the evaluation of alternative strategies, a micro-simulation tool is needed to more effectively assess delay and the number of high crash potential conflicts that occur as function of driver behavior in work zones. This paper presents a simple and efficient algorithm that may support the advancement of micro-simulation tools for the purpose of assessing the impact of driver behavior on traffic flow and safety in work zones. The structure of the algorithm is consistent with the approach being taken in FHWA’s Interactive Highway Safety Design Model. It considers individual driver behavior in an agent-based model that makes use of strategic game theory to characterize the outcome of each driver-to-roadway and driver-to-driver interaction that takes place approaching and entering the work zone. The algorithm considers a wide range of demographic groups. The algorithm and the driver population profile attributes are extensions of a strategic game-based, driver behavior analytical method tested by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in 2003, in association with emergency vehicle operations and by the University of Massachusetts Transportation Center in 2005 in association with work zone operations.

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