Road Vehicle Performance

Road vehicle performance forms the basis for highway design guidelines and traffic analysis. As an example, in highway design, the determination of the length required for freeway acceleration and deceleration lanes, maximum highway grades, stopping-sight distances, passing-sight distances, and numerous crash mitigation highway features all rely on a basic understanding of vehicle performance. Vehicle performance is also a major consideration in the selection and design of traffic control devices, the determination of speed limits, and the timing and control of traffic signal systems.

Studying vehicle performance serves two important functions. First, it provides insight into highway design and traffic operations and the compromises that are necessary to accommodate the wide variety of vehicles that use highways (from high-powered sports cars to heavily laden trucks). Second, vehicle performance is critical to the assessment of the impact that new vehicle technologies will have on existing highway design guidelines. This second function is particularly important in light of the ongoing unprecedented advances in vehicle technologies, including autonomous vehicles. Such advances will necessitate more frequent updating of highway design guidelines as well as engineers who have a better understanding of the fundamental principles underlying vehicle performance.

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