A projected annual traffic growth is expected that the total number of vehicles using the Public Highway Network will increase substantially. This indicates a potential demand for investment in transport infrastructure. Proper utilization of such huge investments necessitates systematic planning for need-based development. Such need-based developments include determination of the required capacity expansion, provision of additional road infrastructure, improvement of existing roads, prioritization of different development phases and forecasting of which is possible upon collection of traffic data. This is done in order to eliminate bottlenecks in both international and local inter-urban road transport towards providing an efficient and effective road transport system.
The concept of forecasting the future use of the road network in terms of traffic loading and flow, is generally an accepted approach world-wide. The techniques used have become almost standard in both developing and developed countries. The accuracy of traffic data collection and the subsequent predictions are of paramount importance in the fulfilment of an appropriate planning, design, maintenance monitoring and management of the road network.
In the past, routine collection of traffic data in any country was not considered important for the development and management of the road network. In the early 1970’s it was realized that a wide variety of information is required in respect of traffic characteristics for proper planning, design, maintenance and management of the national road network. This realization emanated from concerns raised with regard to the amount of traffic (volume), the composition of the different types of vehicles, their speed, total gross weight, number of axles, axle loads and origin and destination of the journeys. Most of this information result in assessment of progressive or rapid deterioration of the road network towards estimating additional cost required to sustain it.
As a result, attempts are now being made to adopt suitable road traffic methodologies for conducting road traffic surveys, which are both technically and scientifically sound, and operationally convenient to execute under the country’s prevailing conditions. This includes the use of both manual and automatic traffic counters, together with computer analysis of the collected traffic data. During the planning, design, construction and maintenance period of the road network, traffic data becomes an essential element in decision-making, and therefore the format and the accuracy of data collection and analysis is critical. It is with this view that this post the concept of traffic data collection and analysis has been authored!
In order to facilitate the assessment of present and future traffic demands, for development of need-based infrastructure, accurate information and continuous monitoring of traffic by appropriate methods is necessary. Implementing authorities must therefore ensure that sufficient data is available to undertake necessary planning, design, construction and maintenance of country’s road network, which is aimed at meeting the prevailing traffic flow, future traffic growth and loading without considerable deterioration in the Quality of Service.
This post has therefore been authored with the main aim being to provide basic information, concept and principles with respect to traffic data collection and analysis. There are various methods of data collection available and used by different organisations/institutions/firms. This is only intended to provide guidance in respect of data collection and analysis, and allows for variation in the methodologies adopted by different users, transport planners, developers, funding authorities, etc., The beneficiaries are Roads Department, other Ministries/Departments, local authorities, educational institutions, the private sector and individuals.
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Importance of Field Data Collection
Field Data Collection and projections thereof of Traffic Volumes are basic requirements for planning of road development and management schemes. Accurate Traffic Data forms an integral part in the science of descriptive national economics and such knowledge is essential in drawing up a rational transport policy for movement of passengers and goods by both government and the private sectors.
Considering the fact that traffic flow data is important in planning of a particular section of the road network and for its subsequent maintenance. Traffic flow pattern appears to be random in distribution, as it reflects people’s motivation in terms of different composition of vehicles on different types of roads under varying environmental conditions. It follows then that data being collected is a methodological statistic, because traffic flow pattern follows a random distribution. Despite such complexities, it does follow fairly and clearly defined patterns that are possible to classify and analyse. Thus, Traffic Data Collection and Analysis follows varying trends and plays an important role in the evaluation and management of road network schemes. While taking cognizance of the above, Traffic Flow Data is needed for different purposes by different Ministries and/or Organisations.
The major areas for which this data is required are:
. Project design.
. Traffic Control.
. Planning maintenance.
. Road Safety Measures.
. National Transport Statistics.
. Planning prioritization and project initiation.
The key areas in which Traffic Flow Data is needed for development and management of the road network include:
. To classify roads on their functional basis.
. Design and improvement of new/existing junctions.
. To plan prioritization of roads improvement schemes.
. To check efficiency of the road network by comparing current.
. To assess economic benefits arising from roads improvements.
. Traffic Volume with the level of service or the calculated capacity.
. To establish relationship between Traffic Volume, number of accidents and causes thereof.
. Determination of a programme of road widening needs & general improvement of existing roads.
. Assistance in planning new developments such as roads in a new town, subdivisions and land use.
. To study future traffic trends and assisting in predicting traffic flows in the future for a given period.
. Investigation of various capacity and design problems for both roads and bridges and parking facilities.
. Determination of warrants or the need for implementation of Traffic Improvement and Traffic Control Measures.
In addition to the above the following are typical specific needs:
. Establish the use of the road network by vehicles of different categories, traffic distribution etc.,
. Assessment of pavement performance through Traffic Surveys and Period monitoring of selected sections.
. Ascertaining optimal timings for maintenance interventions and rehabilitation needs of various roads countrywide.
. Establish economic and social implications of design and feasibility studies of all development projects countrywide.