Calibrating the passenger car equivalent on Italian two line highways: a case study

    Mario De Luca Affiliation
    ; Gianluca Dell’Acqua Affiliation


The Level Of Service (LOS) of a road infrastructure, a concept introduced for the first time in the Highway Capacity Manual (second edition), is defined as the ‘qualitative measure of traffic conditions and their perception by users’. The Highway Capacity Manual, developed in the U.S., is still the most highly internationally credited reference text in the study of vehicular traffic. The method proposed by the Highway Capacity Manual is based mainly on studies and research compiled in the U.S., so in order to apply this method to other realities (e.g. Italy), research needs to be carried out at a local level. In this study, a series of studies were carried out to verify the transferability of these procedures to two roads classified as ‘two-lane highways’. Two fixed RTMS (Remote Traffic Microwave Sensor) were used to record traffic data for two sections located at 3100 km on the SP30 and at 8900 km on the SP175 from 1 January to 31 December 2010. From the data, it was possible to determine not only the relationships between the basic parameters of the traffic flow, but also the (Passenger Car Equivalent) (PCE) values. The results showed that the PCEs analyzed vary significantly with vehicular flow, while they are scarcely affected by changes in speed. In particular, with respect to the vehicular flow, although they have the same range recorded in the Highway Capacity Manual (2010) (between 1 and 2), they tend to be higher than those given in the manual, and the difference tends to diminish beyond a flow rate of 400÷450 pcphpl; the PCE coefficients also tend towards 1 (i.e., the condition where a heavy vehicle is comparable to a car) with range values approaching 1000 pcphpl. In addition, for these values, the traffic-flow diagrams obtained, showed speeds (defined as the critical speed) close to 50÷55 km/h (with the exception of the study conducted on the SP175 in direction d2, which is considerably higher).

First Published Online: 16 Dec 2014

Keyword : traffic flow, passenger car equivalent (PCE), level of service (LOS), speed, density

How to Cite
De Luca, M., & Dell’Acqua, G. (2014). Calibrating the passenger car equivalent on Italian two line highways: a case study. Transport, 29(4), 449–456.
Published in Issue
Dec 31, 2014
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