A Behavioural Model of Traffic Congestion: Endogenizing Speed Choice, Traffic Safety and Time Losses

Conventional economic models of traffic congestion assume that the relation between traffic flow and speed is a technical one. This article describes a behavioral model of traffic congestion, in which drivers optimize their speeds by trading off time costs, expected accident costs, and fuel costs. Since the presence of other drivers affects the latter two cost components and hence the Nash equilibrium speed, a behavioral speed-flow relationship results. In this relationship external congestion costs include expected accident costs and fuel costs, in addition to the time costs considered in the conventional model. The overall welfare optimum in this model is found to be off the speed-flow function, and off the average and marginal cost functions derived from it in the conventional approach. This full optimum requires tolls to be either accompanied by speed policies, or to be set as a function of speed. The authors illustrate these findings using an empirically calibrated numerical simulation model.

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  • Authors:
    • Verhoef, Erik T
    • Rouwendal, Jan
  • Publication Date: 2004-11


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01010590
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 17 2005 11:24AM