Whitney Russell
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What Is a Traffic Study?

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Traffic studies are a way to improve the safety and efficiency of roads

So, you’re driving along and see a traffic light with a sign nearby. The sign says that the traffic light is “under study for removal.” What does this sign mean? Who performs the traffic study? What person or technology observes the traffic and collects the data for the study? We’ve done a bit of digging to round up answers to these questions.

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Traffic studies explained

A traffic study is a formal investigation of a certain area of traffic meant to improve the safety and efficiency of the roads in that area. Per T-Square Engineering, local residents, as well as public officials and jurisdictional staff members, can request traffic studies. Though, transportation engineers are the people who actually carry out the studies.

Sometimes traffic studies assess certain sections of a road that have a high occurrence of accidents as T-Square Engineering articulates. In other cases, a local resident might request that a traffic light in a low-volume area be evaluated for potential removal because they cause an “excessive traffic delay.” New businesses might also request a traffic study, especially if the entity anticipates a significant increase in traffic flow related to customers.

Engineers typically look at five key things when evaluating a certain traffic light or section of the road during a traffic study, as T-Square Engineering shares. First, they look at crash history and existing traffic stats. Then they consider expected and proposed developments, as well as expected traffic growth for the area they’re evaluating.

Data collection methods

There are two primary methods that traffic studies use for gathering data: mobile apps requiring manual input from humans and artificial intelligence platforms. According to Daniel Stofan, founder of traffic analytics platform GoodVision, artificial intelligence systems are the more accurate method.

Per Stofan, manual methods have a 70-95 percent accuracy rating. And that varies depending on factors like the alertness of the staff gathering the data, as well as the survey length. AI-based systems, on the other hand, tend to have an accuracy rating of over 95 percent.

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