Multiple Rear-end Collisions in Freeway Traffic, Their Causes and Their Avoidance
The sensitivity factor, λ, of stimulus-response car following equations was computed, based on response times, τ, obtained from aerial survey data. Vehicles of a platoon are investigated as they approach, proceed through, and leave behind a kinematic disturbance, and an inherent local and asymptotic instability is discovered. Aerial survey data is used in a numerical example to demonstrate how multiple rear-end collisions can be triggered by one vehicle. A driver aid system, informing drivers about the differential velocity between lead and following vehicles, could improve stability, although the final answer appears to lie in automated or semi-automated longitudinal control systems.