Resurrecting the Lost Vehicle Trajectories of Treiterer and Myers with New Insights into a Controversial Hysteresis

The 1974 paper by Treiterer and Myers is a seminal work in traffic flow theory. This longevity is in part because of the impressive collection of manually extracted vehicle trajectories. To date, only a few studies have rivaled the scale of the empirical vehicle trajectory data used in Treiterer and Myers. Their data collection used high-speed aerial photography and manual data reduction to follow hundreds of vehicles. In spite of the Herculean collection effort, the trajectory data set was never released and has since been lost. Fortunately, the plots survive and the present work re-extracts the vehicle trajectory data from the time–space diagrams. The discussion places the value of the data in context and then uses the data to put an end to decades of misinterpretation that started with Treiterer himself. The central thesis of Treiterer and Myers generated considerable interest: a hysteresis whereby drivers exhibit different fundamental behavior depending on whether they are entering or exiting a disturbance. There has been extensive debate about the authors’ findings in the literature, but without the original data set any interpretation has required considerable speculation. With the resurrected trajectories, this work reexamines the vehicles underlying the hysteresis and finally quells the speculation. Rather than arising from car following behavior, it turns out that the enigmatic progression arose from a combination of lane change maneuvers and unremarkable transitions into or out of the congested regime. On publication, the re-extracted data from this paper will be released to the research community.


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  • Accession Number: 01658526
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 18-00020
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jan 8 2018 10:02AM