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An Analysis of Fundamental Diagrams for Real Traffic Flow Using MIDAS Data

by: SULIAMAN ZAHEER

The purpose of this research is to look at various techniques that assess traffic behaviour and traffic models that are currently at use. All of the discussed models are representative of efforts to explain traffic behaviour.

In addition, this thesis will specifically focus on the year 2008 and 2009 for M1 using data collected by MIDAS through loop detectors installed at various junctions along M1. One would expect the data to cover the whole range of geographical area by the motorway, however there are gaps within the data provided.

Fundamental diagrams are a qualitative measure of explaining the traffic behaviour and it forms the basis for analysing traffic behaviour, therefore, it is widely used in the prediction and formulation of traffic models. Thus, fundamental diagrams are widely discussed in this thesis to highlight their importance and point out important features about them that do not conform to conventional fundamental diagrams.

Recently, a symposium in June 2011 was held celebrating 75 years of fundamental diagrams. It outlined the contributions of various authors and researchers who immensely contributed to the technological developments of techniques that allow fast and real time sensing and measuring. In addition, it acknowledged areas where there is need for concerted effort to narrow the gap between theory and practice. About 45 leading individuals participated in the symposium.

Traffic Data for the period 2008 and 2009 was analysed using fundamental diagram and it was observed that these do not change with time and space. Furthermore, M1 between J11 to J20 was better managed during 2009 compare to 2008. In addition, a brief spatio-temporal study was carried out to detect accident hotspots in the flow diagrams.

Finally, the study supports the idea that qualitative analysis of fundamental diagrams along quantitative analysis provides a better insight into traffic flow behaviour. The bivariate relationship plays a crucial role in the fast, reliable and real time decision making process of the implementation of practical traffic calming measures that helps to reduce congestion at hotspots. Thus, fundamental diagrams are imperative to highlight and evaluate the efficiency of motorways.

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