How often do you drive on public roadways? For most of us, we spend a considerable amount of time — hours per day for some — going to and from work, social gatherings, grocery runs, and back home each day. To help keep you safe on the road, various organizations use traffic data collection to understand better how traffic operates.
But what is traffic data? It’s an umbrella term that provides valuable information on travel speeds on various road segments, travel times, and even accident rates. There are numerous traffic data collection methods designed to bring insight to traffic professionals who examine the ebb and flow of our roadways.
So, why do we need to know how to collect traffic data? As you’re likely aware, getting behind the wheel of a multi-ton vehicle brings about certain risks and dangers. In the blink of an eye, a car accident can lead to severe injuries, costly property damage, and even loss of life. Collecting traffic data, in many ways, can help prevent such unfortunate incidents.
Types of Data Being Collected
We briefly mentioned a few data types currently collected by traffic professionals, including travel speeds, travel times, and accident rates.
The point of collecting traffic data like this is to capture a realistic, real-world look at traffic in significant areas across the country.
Here’s what traffic professionals county and record when researching traffic data in your area:
- The number of traffic attendants that pass through a single section of road across a specific period.
- The number of vehicles that use a specific road per day, per hour, and even per minute, in some cases.
- The time it takes to move through an intersection or stop sign.
- The number of accidents that occur on a particular section of road during a specific time.
Common Traffic Data Collection Methods
The ability to collect traffic data is possible thanks to numerous traffic data collection methods. For starters, many traffic professionals utilize a traffic data collection device to help keep track of passing vehicles, their speed, and the time it takes to traverse a specific section of roadway.
But that’s not all. Other methods of collecting traffic data include human surveyors, video recording devices, magnetic or piezo sensors, radars, and image analysis using machine vision devices.
Experts utilize profile surveys to help determine the intensity of traffic on a roadway and the direction of traffic flow. These surveys are often set up at intersections to monitor one or more lanes of traffic moving in multiple directions for the most efficient data collection purposes.
Speaking of surveys, let us break down the two most commonly used forms of surveys for traffic data collection:
A profiling survey is a form of manual counting with a human behind the data collection process. Most surveyors will create a paper form to help distinguish between unique types of vehicle categories, the direction or lane the vehicle is traveling in, and various pre-selected time intervals.
In some states, a mobile app replaces a paper form.
Next, we have directional surveys, which consist of counting pre-specified conditions with the help of multiple human surveyors covering numerous directions along a single section of road or intersection.
Most directional surveys utilize camera monitoring systems carefully positioned above traffic to collect footage that is later analyzed for data collection purposes.
Traditional vs. AI Traffic Data Collection
With the advancements in modern technology, including those within the traffic data collection industry, we are witnessing a boom in collecting data. In some regions, human surveyors remain the top choice. Elsewhere, however, AI traffic data collection becomes the norm.
Both are prone to mishaps, though. An AI, while extremely thorough, can produce corrupted data, frame lag, and other computer-related concerns that may lead to less-than-ideal data collection processes. These issues are few and far between, though.
But the same goes for a human surveyor. A human can only tally so many vehicles passing by at a high rate of speed. They will miss out on some data along the way.
That being said, AI is gaining ground, as it allows for the most accurate collection of standard vehicles, both motorized and non-motorized, complex traffic movements, vehicle trajectories, and other traffic data insights that prove effective in modern research.
Transline for Traffic Data Collection
Here at Transline, we’re known for offering the top traffic calming solutions. Coincidentally, many traffic calming methods also double as traffic data collection methodology, including specially-designed radar signs with traffic data reporting via Streetsmart
Elsewhere, our radar signs with EZ COMM Cellular Modems allow for pre-programmed radar speed signage and flashing beacons that work well inside of school zones.
Contact Transline today for top-of-the-line traffic calming solutions and traffic data collection tools today!