IMPROVING LIVES with Traffic Data
By Spencer Osborn, EIT
As our streets and highways become more congested, traffic data collection and analysis are becoming even more important. Before we can design any solutions, we must first understand the problem. This is where real-life data and analytics come into play.
Continuing our commitment to providing quality, common sense solutions to our clients, TREKK has recently adopted traffic data collection technology that allows us to safely and accurately collect traffic data at intersections and along roadway segments. The video data collected by this camera technology equips us with the information needed to determine a cost-effective and feasible solution. It also eliminates the need for manual traffic counts, keeping our staff safely out of the way of traffic, especially during peak periods.
How We Collect Data
Traffic cameras are installed onto existing signs, poles or posts along a roadway network to record data for a specific amount of time. Once mounted, the cameras telescope upward for a birds-eye view of the location. They can record anywhere from a few hours to capture peak hour volumes or an entire 24-hour period. The cameras can withstand and record during inclement weather including strong winds, rain, and snow.
Traffic data can be collected along a roadway segment to measure roadway volume or at intersections to gather turning movement counts. We can also collect time-to-travel data to determine the length of time it takes vehicles to travel from one intersection to another. The cameras have a visibility limit of 170 feet during both day and night, which is adequate for most intersections. Larger intersections or roundabouts may require two cameras to collect data.
From Video to Data
After a recording is complete, the camera unit is uninstalled and returned to the office for data processing. Data is typically delivered in under 72 hours, but can be expedited if necessary. By eliminating the human errors that may come with manual traffic counts, we expect accuracy ratings of 95% or more using this technology.
From the data, we can determine vehicle classification and volume for each movement at an intersection or roadway segment. We can also receive data for bicycles and pedestrians. All of the data gathered is saved forever on a user-friendly interface that can be accessed at any time.
Data. Now What?
Whether it’s a high-level analysis or a detailed traffic analysis, the traffic data can be used to determine existing conditions and potential concerns on a roadway network. During analysis, the video can be revisited to further digest and analyze the data. Below are a few examples of the types of analysis traffic data can be used for:
Traffic Impact Study – Determine the impacts to nearby intersections due to a proposed development
Intersection Control – Determine the best solution between various control measures at an intersection
Traffic Signal Warrant – Analyze operations of an intersection to determine if a traffic signal is warranted
Corridor Analysis – Determine if additional lanes are needed or if existing lanes can be removed and reconfigured to service all modes of transportation and create complete streets
Signal Re-timing – Collect data before and after a signal re-timing project to verify reduced travel time along a corridor
This safer, more accurate, and cost-effective approach to traffic data collection equips engineers with the information necessary for traffic analysis, helping them to recommend design solutions. It allows our staff to be better utilized as we can be in the office solving other problems, while cameras are in the field collecting data. Due to TREKK’s streamlined approach, traffic data can be collected at a reasonably low cost and turned-around quickly, which is valuable in our funding driven and fast-paced industry.
Spencer Osborn is a project engineering specializing in traffic and transportation engineering, including data collection, traffic impact studies, operational analysis, safety studies, pavement marking design, traffic control, and traffic signal and lighting design.