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Open Access Publications from the University of California

An Enhancement to Speed Estimation with Single Loops

  • Author(s): Lin, Wei-Hua
  • Dahlgren, Joy
  • Huo, Hong
  • et al.

Traffic data from single loop detectors are one of the dominant data sources widely used in many traffic operation centers and traveler information systems. Speed estimation from single loop detectors is mainly based on occupancy data, a conversion factor from occupancy to density (which is related to vehicle length), and the assumed relationship between flow, speed, and density. This paper investigates the discrepancy between the speed estimated with single loops and the speed measured directly from double loops. It was found that the inaccuracy of speed estimation with single loops is mainly caused by the irregular behavior of vehicle pace. Under congested or unstable traffic conditions, the distribution of vehicle pace within a given time interval often exhibits a large variance accompanied by a strong skewness. Accuracy in speed estimation can be improved by computing occupancy in a different way, using the median vehicle passage time over the detector as opposed to the mean vehicle passage time often used in the conventional method. The performance of the enhanced speed estimation method is very encouraging. The use of the median vehicle passage time reduces the skewness of pace data.

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