Joint Impact of Rain and Incidents on Traffic Stream Speeds
Rakha, Hesham A.
Ashqar, Huthaifa I.
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Unpredictable and heterogeneous weather conditions and road incidents are common factors that impact highway traffic speeds. A better understanding of the interplay of different factors that affect roadway traffic speeds is essential for policymakers to mitigate congestion and improve road safety. This study investigates the effect of precipitation and incidents on the speed of traffic in the eastbound direction of I-64 in Virginia. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that studies the relationship between precipitation and incidents as factors that would have a combined effect on traffic stream speeds. Furthermore, using a mixture model of two linear regressions, we were able to model the two different regimes that the traffic speed could be classified into, namely, free-flow and congested. Using INRIX traffic data from 2013 through 2016 along a 25.6-mi section of Interstate 64 in Virginia, results show that the reduction of traffic speed only due to incidents ranges from 41% to 75% if the road is already congested. In this case, precipitation was found to be statistically insignificant. However, regardless of the incident impact, the effect of light rain in free-flow conditions ranges from insignificant to a 4% speed reduction while the effect of heavy rain ranges from a 0.6% to a 6.5% speed reduction when the incident severity is low but has a roughly double effect when the incident severity is high.