VSL, Variable Speed Limits, Crash Prediction, Safety, Crash Migration, Ramp Metering, ITS, Intelligent Transportation Systems, I-4


This research evaluates Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) implementation strategies to improve the safety of a freeway once a potential of a crash is detected. Among these strategies are Variable Speed Limit (VSL) and ramp metering. VSL are ITS devices that are commonly used to calm traffic in an attempt to relieve congestion and enhance throughput. With proper use, VSL can be more cost effective than adding more lanes. In addition to maximizing the capacity of a roadway, a different aspect of VSL can be realized by the potential of improving traffic safety. Through the use of multiple microscopic traffic simulations, best practices can be determined, and a final recommendation can be made. Ramp metering is a method to control the amount of traffic flow entering from on-ramps to achieve a better efficiency of the freeway. It can also have a potential benefit in improving the safety of the freeway. This thesis pursues the goal of a best-case implementation of VSL. Two loading scenarios, a fully loaded case (90% of ramp maximums) and an off-peak loading case (60% of ramp maximums), at multiple stations with multiple implementation methods are strategically attempted until a best-case implementation is found. The final recommendation for the off-peak loading is a 15 mph speed reduction for 2 miles upstream and a 15 mph increase in speed for the 2 miles downstream of the detector that shows a high crash potential. The speed change is to be implemented in 5 mph increments every 10 minutes. The recommended case is found to reduce relative crash potential from .065 to -.292, as measured by a high-speed crash prediction algorithm (Abdel-Aty et al. 2005). A possibility of crash migration to downstream and upstream locations was observed, however, the safety and efficiency benefits far outweigh the crash migration potential. No final recommendation is made for the use of VSL in the fully loaded case (low-speed case); however, ramp metering indicated a promising potential for safety improvement.


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Graduation Date





Abdel-Aty, Mohamed


Master of Science in Civil Engineering (M.S.C.E.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Degree Program

Civil Engineering








Release Date

May 2005

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)