Revealing the Impact of Mainstream Disruptions on On-Ramp Merging Behavior—A Virtual Reality (VR) Approach Using Work Zone Case StudiesAuthor/Presenter: Xu, Zheng; Jiang, Tanghan; Zheng, Nan
Infrastructure disruptions such as lane closures present traffic efficiency and road safety challenges, especially on freeways. Such impacts become more significant when combined with compulsory merging sections. This research sheds light on understanding the characteristics of compulsory merging at freeway on-ramps where a construction zone disrupts the mainstream. An integrated simulation platform consisting of virtual reality (VR) and traffic micro-simulation was utilized to collect behavioral data, which features a naturalistic environment for driving behavior analysis. Experiments were conducted, and participants’ perceptions and reactions in various scenarios were analyzed. Results showed that mainstream disruptions on the freeway could contribute to a heavier driving workload at the merging section; interestingly, fewer crashes occurred under adverse weather conditions and nighttime, although the probability of conflicts was higher than fair weather conditions and daytime. This study takes advantage of state-of-the-art technologies, contributing to a positive alternative for driving behavior study.