Personal choices drive traffic flow

Understanding how drivers behave on the road can help influence highway design, construction projects and traffic policy.

Dr. Monica Cojocaru works with students and collaborators to develop agent-based models to help explain how driving behaviour influences highway efficiency. Do rule abiding drivers help or hinder traffic flow? How does your personal decisions affect highway efficiency for all drivers?

Drivers are classified as either Law-Abiding drivers, opportunistic Deviant drivers, cautious Non-Myopic drivers, tailgating Aggressive drivers, and ambivalent Imitator drivers and each group are given specific driving habits. Dr. Cojocaru's group conducted computer simulations to investigate how the prevalence of each type of driver affects overall highway efficiency. It was found that while Aggressive drivers tended to perform poorly individually, they are required to improve overall efficiency! Knowing the influence of each group of drivers can help motivate further study in highway design.

Dr. Cojocaru plans to expand her work to simulate on- and off-ramps, lane reductions caused by accidents, construction zones, or the presence of law enforcement.

A long-exposure picture of traffic at night in a city

High school students interested in developing the mathematical and statistical skills to tackle a real world problem such as this should consider our Mathematical Science Major, with an Area of Emphasis in Economics or Biomathematical Modelling.

Prospective graduate students interested in working with Dr. Cojocaru should visit her website, or read more about Graduate Studies at Guelph.