Forecasts of highway traffic should, at least in theory, be predicated on some understanding of traveler decisions, because the various decisions that travelers make regarding trips will ultimately determine the quantity, spatial distribution (by route), and temporal distribution of vehicles on a highway network. Within this context, travelers can be viewed as making four distinct but interrelated decisions regarding trips: temporal decisions, destination decisions, modal decisions, and spatial or route decisions. The temporal decision includes the decision to travel and, more importantly, when to travel. The destination decision is concerned with the selection of a specific destination (shopping center, recreational facility, etc.), and the modal decision relates to how the trip is to be made (by automobile, bus, walking, or bicycling). Finally, spatial decisions focus on which route is to be taken from the traveler’s origin (the traveler’s initial location) to the desired destination. Being able to understand, let alone predict, such decisions is a monumental task. The remaining sections of this chapter seek to define the dimensions of this decision-prediction task and, through examples and illustrations, to demonstrate methods of forecasting traveler decisions and, ultimately, traffic volumes.
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