Safety analysis of freeway on-ramp merging with the presence of autonomous vehicles
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2021
Freeway on-ramp merging areas are high-risk areas for motor vehicle crashes and conflicts due to the variety of driving styles, the difference in mainline and ramp traffic states, and factors related to roadway design and traffic control. The emerging Autonomous Vehicle (AV) technologies are expected to bring substantial improvements in ramp merging operations in general, including the possibility to reduce traffic conflicts and crashes by partially or fully eliminating the critical factors related to the human drivers. In order to investigate the potential safety impacts of AVs at on-ramp merging, this study first proposes a novel conflict index in theory as a specific indicator for ramp merging safety. Then, a merging conflict model is introduced to estimate the index value in various cases by considering the interactions between the mainline and ramp vehicles. In order to account for real-world uncertainties and variations in various crash-contributing factors, the proposed approach incorporates Monte-Carlo method and probabilistic distributions calibrated on the empirical freeway data. The developed approach is later applied in a case study with incremental AV market penetration rates to investigate AV safety impacts at on-ramp merging. The results show clear benefits of AVs in reducing the frequency and severity of the critical merging events. In addition, a sensitivity analysis on essential model parameters shows that the merging safety of AVs is closely related to their gap acceptance policy and the proper functioning of the driving systems, providing further insights into the future development of AVs.
Traffic conflict techniques
Probabilistic risk analysis
Freeway on-ramp merging areas
Safety performance assessment