Assessing the Impact of Weather on Traffic Intensity

Mario Cools Transportation Research Institute, Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium

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Elke Moons Transportation Research Institute, Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium

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Geert Wets Transportation Research Institute, Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium

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Abstract

This paper focuses on the effect of weather conditions on daily traffic intensities (the number of cars passing a specific segment of a road). The main objective is to examination whether or not weather conditions uniformly alter daily traffic intensities in Belgium, or in other words whether or not road usage on a particular location determines the size of the impacts of various weather conditions. This general examination is a contribution that allows policymakers to assess the appropriateness of countrywide versus local traffic management strategies. In addition, a secondary goal of this paper is to validate findings in international literature within a Belgian context. To achieve these goals, the paper analyzes the effects of weather conditions on both upstream (toward a specific location) and downstream (away from a specific location) traffic intensities at three traffic count locations typified by a different road usage. Perhaps the most interesting results of this study for policymakers are the heterogeneity of the weather effects between different traffic count locations, and the homogeneity of the weather effects on upstream and downstream traffic at specific locations. The results also indicate that snowfall, rainfall, and wind speed diminish traffic intensity, and high temperatures increase traffic intensity. Further generalizations of the findings might be possible by studying weather impacts on local roads and by shifting the focus of research toward travel behavior.

Corresponding author address: Mario Cools, Transportation Research Institute, Hasselt University, Wetenschapspark 5 bus 6, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium. Email: mario.cools@uhasselt.be

Abstract

This paper focuses on the effect of weather conditions on daily traffic intensities (the number of cars passing a specific segment of a road). The main objective is to examination whether or not weather conditions uniformly alter daily traffic intensities in Belgium, or in other words whether or not road usage on a particular location determines the size of the impacts of various weather conditions. This general examination is a contribution that allows policymakers to assess the appropriateness of countrywide versus local traffic management strategies. In addition, a secondary goal of this paper is to validate findings in international literature within a Belgian context. To achieve these goals, the paper analyzes the effects of weather conditions on both upstream (toward a specific location) and downstream (away from a specific location) traffic intensities at three traffic count locations typified by a different road usage. Perhaps the most interesting results of this study for policymakers are the heterogeneity of the weather effects between different traffic count locations, and the homogeneity of the weather effects on upstream and downstream traffic at specific locations. The results also indicate that snowfall, rainfall, and wind speed diminish traffic intensity, and high temperatures increase traffic intensity. Further generalizations of the findings might be possible by studying weather impacts on local roads and by shifting the focus of research toward travel behavior.

Corresponding author address: Mario Cools, Transportation Research Institute, Hasselt University, Wetenschapspark 5 bus 6, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium. Email: mario.cools@uhasselt.be

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