From behavioral psychology to acceleration modeling: Calibration, validation, and exploration of drivers' cognitive and safety parameters in a risk-taking environment

Samer H. Hamdar*, Hani S. Mahmassani, Martin Treiber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


We investigate a utility-based approach for driver car-following behavioral modeling while analyzing different aspects of the model characteristics especially in terms of capturing different fundamental diagram regions and safety proxy indices. The adopted model came from an elementary thought where drivers associate subjective utilities for accelerations (i.e. gain in travel times) and subjective dis-utilities for decelerations (i.e. loss in travel time) with a perceived probability of being involved in rear-end collision crashes. Following the testing of the model general structure, the authors translate the corresponding behavioral psychology theory - prospect theory - into an efficient microscopic traffic modeling with more elaborate stochastic characteristics considered in a risk-taking environment.After model formulation, we explore different model disaggregate and aggregate characteristics making sure that fidelity is kept in terms of equilibrium properties. Significant effort is then dedicated to calibrating and validating the model using microscopic trajectory data. A modified genetic algorithm is adopted for this purpose while focusing on capturing inter-driver heterogeneity for each of the parameters. Using the calibration exercise as a starting point, simulation sensitivity analysis is performed to reproduce different fundamental diagram regions and to explore rear-end collisions related properties. In terms of fundamental diagram regions, the model in hand is able to capture traffic breakdowns and different instabilities in the congested region represented by flow-density data points scattering. In terms of incident related measures, the effect of heterogeneity in both psychological factors and execution/perception errors on the accidents number and their distribution is studied. Through sensitivity analysis, correlations between the crash-penalty, the negative coefficient associated with losses in speed, the positive coefficient associated with gains in speed, the driver's uncertainty, the anticipation time and the reaction time are retrieved. The formulated model offers a better understanding of driving behavior, particularly under extreme/incident conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-53
Number of pages22
JournalTransportation Research Part B: Methodological
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Car-following
  • Driver behavior
  • Heterogeneity
  • Prospect theory
  • Risk
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation


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