Operational Considerations of Passing Zones for Two-lane Highways: Spanish Case Study
The U.S. Highway Capacity Manual (HCM 2010) methodology is used in Spain to evaluate traffic operation and quality of service. In two-lane undivided highways, the effect of limiting where drivers could pass slower vehicles, or passing restrictions, is considered through the percentage of no-passing zones. This measure does not account for how passing opportunities are distributed along the road. The objective of this research was to evaluate the effect percentage of no-passing zones and average passing zone length on a two-lane highway and, if significant, incorporate them in the analysis methodology,. The TWOPAS microsimulation program was calibrated and validated to the Spanish conditions. Passing restrictions had little effect on average traffic speed (ATS), with differences lower than 6 km/h between a road segment with no passing restrictions and a road segment with a passing restriction on 100% of its length. Conversely, passing restrictions can increase the percent time spent following (PTSF) up to 30%. Increasing the passing zone length beyond 2,000 m does not improve PTSF. The new models could be used to better estimate traffic operation on Spanish two-lane highways.
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