Delay-based passenger car equivalents for trucks at signalized intersections

Rahim F. Benekohal, Weixiong Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a new methodology for computing passenger car equivalents at signalized intersections that is based on the delay concept. Unlike the commonly used headway-based methods that consider only the excess headway consumed by trucks, the delay-based approach fully considers the additional delay heavy vehicles cause on traffic stream. Delay-based passenger car equivalents are not constant, but depend on traffic volume, truck type and truck percentage. The field data indicated that the passenger car equivalents increase as the traffic volume and the percentage of heavy vehicles increase. The field data were used to calibrate TRAF-NETSIM simulation model that was used to cover a broad range of traffic conditions. Mathematical models to estimate the equivalencies were developed. The passenger car equivalent for single unit trucks vary from 1.00 to 1.37, and for combination trucks 1.00-2.18 depending on traffic volume and truck percentage. The passenger car equivalents are highly correlated with traffic volume and, to some degree, with percentage of heavy vehicles. Although the PCE of 1.5 recommended in the 1985 HCM seems to be more reasonable than the 2.0 recommended in the 1994 and 1997 HCM, both overestimate the impact of single unit trucks. For combination trucks, the 1997 HCM overestimates the capacity reduction effects of the trucks in most cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-457
Number of pages21
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Transportation
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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