Microsimulation, Crash Prediction, Variable Speed Limits, Ramp Metering


Recent research at UCF into defining surrogate measures for identifying crash prone conditions on freeways has led to the introduction of several statistical models which can flag such conditions with a good degree of accuracy. Outputs from these models have the potential to be used as real-time safety measures on freeways. They may also act as the basis for the evaluation of several intervention strategies that might help in the mitigation of risk of crashes. Ramp Metering and Variable Speed Limits are two approaches which have the potential of becoming effective implementation strategies for improving the safety conditions on congested freeways. This research evaluates both these strategies in different configurations and attempts to quantify their effect on risk of crash on a 9-mile section of Interstate-4 in the Orlando metropolitan region. The section consists of 17 Loop Detector stations, 11 On-ramps and 10 off-ramps. PARAMICS micro-simulation is used as the tool for modeling the freeway section. The simulated network is calibrated and validated for 5 minute average flows and speeds using loop detector data. Feedback Ramp Metering algorithm, ALINEA, is used for controlling access from up to 7 on-ramps. Variable Speed Limits are implemented based on real-time speed conditions prevailing in the whole 9-mile section. Both these strategies are tested separately as well as collectively to determine the individual effects of all the parameters involved. The results have been used to formulate and recommend the best possible strategy for minimizing the risk of crashes on the corridor. The study concluded that Ramp Metering improves the conditions on the freeway in terms of safety by decreasing variance in speeds and decreasing average occupancy. A safety benefit index was developed for quantifying the reduction in crash risk and it indicated that an optimal implementation strategy might produce benefits of up to 55%. The condition on the freeway section improved with increase in the number of metered ramps. It was also observed that shorter signal cycles for metered ramps were more suitable for metering multiple ramps. Ramp Metering at multiple locations also decreased the segment wide travel-times by 5% and was even able to offset the delays incurred by drivers at the metered on-ramps. Variable Speed Limits (VSL) were individually not as effective as ramp metering but when implemented along with ramp metering, they were found to further improve the safety on the freeway section under consideration. By means of a detailed experimental design it was observed that the best strategy for introducing speed limit changes was to raise the speed limits downstream of the location of interest by 5 mph and not affecting the speed limits upstream. A coordinated strategy - involving simultaneous application of VSL and Ramp Metering - provided safety benefits of up to 56 % for the study section according to the safety benefit index. It also improved the average speeds on the network besides decreasing the overall network travel time by as much as 21%.


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Graduation Date





Abdel-Aty, Mohamed


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Degree Program

Civil Engineering








Release Date

May 2006

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)