Mass evacuations, particularly those at a statewide level, represent the largest single-event traffic movements that exist. These complex events can last several days, cover thousands of miles of road..
Mass evacuations, particularly those at a statewide level, represent the largest single-event traffic movements that exist. These complex events can last several days, cover thousands of miles of roadway, and include hundreds of thousands of people and vehicles. Often, they are marked by enormous delays and heavy congestion and are nearly always criticized for their inefficiency and lack of management. However, there are no standardized methods by which to systematically quantify traffic characteristics at the proper scale. Several recent evacuations have occurred in the United States. Wildfire evacuations have been ordered in the state of California while Hurricanes have led to evacuations in the state of Florida. It has generally been accepted that the evacuation from a regional wildfire is fundamentally different than the evacuation from a hurricane. Hurricane evacuations generally encompass larger areas when compared to wildfire evacuations and provide several days of advanced warning. Whereas, wildfires impact smaller areas with significantly shorter warning time. On the other hand, at the broadest level, evacuees and their vehicles move in both time and space. This research seeks to develop a better understanding of the travel flow principles that govern the evacuation process and its impact on the mobility of a community, for different hazard types. The goal of this research is to build upon the prior knowledge and expand the scientific understanding of the evacuation process by systematically analyzing evacuations from hurricane and wildfire events.