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Phase diagram of congested traffic flow: An empirical study

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Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


We analyze traffic data from a highway section containing one effective on-ramp. Based on two criteria, local velocity variation patterns and expansion (or nonexpansion) of congested regions, three distinct congested traffic states are identified. These states appear at different levels of the upstream flux and the on-ramp flux, thereby generating a phase digram of the congested traffic flow. Observed traffic states are compared with recent theoretical analyses and both agreeing and disagreeing features are found.


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