A theoretical probe of a German experiment on stationary moving traffic jams

Wei Hua Lin, Hong K. Lo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Kerner and Rehborn (Phys.Rev.E 53 (2) (1996)) reported on the observation of two stationary moving jams that lasted for about an hour on a 13 km long German highway section. They attributed the phenomenon to intrinsic characteristics of traffic flow, something that would arise spontaneously within the traffic stream due to drivers' driving behavior. We show in this paper that these moving jams are not particularly peculiar but can be explained with the hydrodynamic theory of traffic flow, or the Lighthill-Whitham-Richards model, and the merge and diverge models in the cell transmission model. In fact, we demonstrate that this stationary jam phenomenon can be replicated with a simple two-wave velocity (or triangular) flow-density relationship in conjunction with the hydrodynamic theory. This finding provides some evidence to support that a triangular flow-density relationship is a good approximation of field observations and that a simple first-order hydrodynamic theory is capable of explaining complex traffic phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-261
Number of pages11
JournalTransportation Research Part B: Methodological
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation


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