Drivers’ awareness of travel time

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Thomas Varn Mortensen
  • Peter Nielsen
4. term, Transport Engineering, Master (Master Programme)
This project is based on a problem analysis that accounts for traffic congestion, travel time and
socio-economic analyzes. The general practice in congestion statements is described, and the
effect that the valuation of travel time has on the final result is clarified. Some of the criticism that
congestion statements have received over the years is also summarized, since there is disagreement
on the subject. It is explained how people perceive time, and how differently time is perceived
in various situations. In socio-economic analyzes, savings in travel time are included as the allimportant
benefit, when the pros and cons of traffic projects are weighed against each other, but
there are disagreements about the value of especially small time savings.

The problem statement of this project deals with car drivers’ ability to estimate travel time for an
upcoming trip, compared to the actual travel time of the trip. This topic is interesting to analyze,
since small delays are included as equally as major delays in the congestion statements, and in
socio-economic analyzes the value of small time savings is the same as large time savings. If it
turns out that small delays and small time savings can be neglected, it may be relevant to reassess
the method in which congestion statements and socio-economic analyzes are calculated.

The thesis is examined through a questionnaire survey, in which 43 participants from the research
project ITS Platform at Aalborg University are included. Prior to their trips, the participants were
asked to give an estimate on the travel time of the upcoming trip. After completion of the trip,
they were asked whether they felt delayed on the trip or not. After the unsuitable trips had been
sorted out, there were 1043 unique trips in the data set. The estimated travel time were compared
with the actual travel time, measured with GPS loggers, which gave a result on the drivers’ time
awareness. The drivers’ experienced delays were compared with the expected travel time and the
actual travel time of the trip, which gave an indication on whether the drivers perceived any delays
as a waste.

To support the trends identified through comparison between expected and actual travel time, a
comparison with a journey time calculator has been made, which calculates an objective travel
time for a given route.

The results show that drivers who are delayed, and at the same time feel delayed, on average are 4.6
minutes delayed relative to the expected travel time. The drivers who are delayed, but who do not
feel delayed, are only 2 minutes delayed compared to the expected travel time, and the difference
is significant. Most of the drivers who are delayed in relation to the expected travel time answer
no to whether they feel delayed. In only 25 % of the trips, the drivers’ estimated travel time is
lower than the actual travel time, suggesting that drivers prefer to estimate the travel time too high
rather than too low. The conclusion is that motorists on average estimate the expected travel time
between 2 and 3 minutes wrong compared to the actual time, and that delays below two minutes
do not mean anything to the drivers. It is however recommended that further studies are made,
before any changes in the general practice regarding congestion statements and socio-economic
analyzes are made.
Publication date6 Jun 2013
Number of pages69
Publishing institutionAalborg Universitet
ID: 77237400