Lane Change Dynamics of a Commercial Tractor Trailer

Paper #:
  • 2017-01-1421

  • 2017-03-28
Accident reconstruction often involves the analysis of lane change dynamics that may have led to an accident, or conversely may have avoided such. These analyses can include many scenarios; one typical scenario is the merging of an articulated commercial vehicle from a roadway shoulder into a travel lane. A review of currently available analytical and computer simulation models finds that most models are based on an analysis of a single-point object. Additionally, these models consider either a constant lateral acceleration profile or a half-sine acceleration profile with specified peak lateral acceleration resulting in a constant lane change time regardless of vehicle speed. When considering the actual lane change dynamics of a tractor-trailer, the typically applied predictive models are limited to predicting the dynamics of a singular point on the tractor-trailer during the lane change as opposed to more specific dynamics of the tractor or trailer itself. Testing in this study was completed using a conventional tractor with sleeper berth, coupled to an unloaded 40-foot trailer chassis with container. A total of 23 tests were completed including (1) constant speed maneuvers for travel speeds ranging from 5.0 to 42.0 miles per hour (mph) and (2) continuously accelerating travel speeds with lane changes initiated at 6.5 to 17.0 mph. Two-dimensional time dependent tracking of the corners (tractor front left and right, trailer rear left and right) of the vehicle were documented and an imaging of the Detroit Diesel engine electronic control module (ECM) were collected between tests. Correlation and validation of the test data was made relative to commonly used simulation software packages including HVE-3D and TruckSim. Results of this study show that while above speed ranges of 30-35 mph the constant-speed lane change timings do tend to converge toward a constant, while at lower speeds a clear inverse relation exists in the speed versus lane change timing relationship. Empirical relationships were developed to better predict the lane change dynamics of multiple points and the overall profile of the vehicle. Overall, this study provides data and relationships for consideration in lane change dynamics as well as the ability to distinguish timing of when a tractor-trailer would become perceivable versus its position in an accident under investigation.
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