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CIV3703 Transport Engineering

Module 5 – Traffic studies and Parking

Part A
determine the types of traffic surveys needed to investigate a
particular traffic engineering problem
prepare and supervise the carrying out of a traffic survey
present information gathered from a traffic survey in a usable
explain why the design vehicle approach is used in parking design
design parking facilities for on-street parking and off-street single
level parking
explain the methods of operating off-street parking facilities.
5.1 Purpose of Traffic Studies
Traffic Study = collection and analysis of
measurable factual data relating to traffic
and its characteristics.
basis for planning and design
assist traffic operation e.g., need for signs
evaluate effects of changes (before and after)
basic characteristics of traffic
Common Types of Traffic Studies
traffic volume counts
speed studies
travel time and delay studies
origin and destination studies
crash studies
parking studies
Other Traffic Studies

axle load surveys

lateral placement surveys
goods movements surveys
pedestrian surveys
traffic access surveys
traffic impact surveys
5.2 Traffic Volume Counts
Number of vehicles past a

Information sought:
traffic volume and direction of traffic
volume of turning traffic
hourly, daily, seasonal variations
proportion of cars, trucks, etc.
Purposes of Volume Counts
The purposes of the volume counts:
To select pavement, shoulder and bridge widths
pavement thickness design
economic comparisons of alternatives
need for control devices
determine construction priorities
scheduling roadway maintenance
determine trends in growth
design intersections
determine crash/accident rates
plan road system
validate origin and destination surveys
general info.
5.2 Presentation of Results
Tabular, graphical

Hourly volumes
Intersection flow counts
Traffic volume with growth rates
Network with bands proportional to flow.
Example of a Traffic Flow Map

Network with bands proportional to flow.

Source: Garber, N.J. & Hoel, L.A. 2009, Traffic and

Highway Engineering, Cengage Learning, Stamford, USA.
5.3 Speed studies
Speed studies are often carried out and the more important
purposes of these are:
to determine the range and magnitude of speeds as a basis
for formulating design standards
to find a correlation between speeds and crashes or
between speeds and geometric features
to determine the need for traffic control devices, including
speed zoning
to check the effectiveness of changes by conducting before
and after studies
economic analysis.
Analysis and presentation of results

Tables, graphs and diagrams

Mean speed, 85th percentile
5.4 Methods of volume and/or speed studies

Manual counts
short term counts
turning movements, pedestrians,
relatively expensive
timing vehicles
photographs of road section (aerial)

Manual method is seldom used

Automatic counts
Based on detected passing
axles or vehicles
Automatic devices
1. road detectors
2. radar-based
3. principles of electronics
Automatic counts

Road Detectors
Collect speeds and volume data at the same time
- Pneumatic road tubes
- Induction loops
Human errors are considerably reduced
For longer counting periods: one day or longer
Permanent stations (inductive loops, WIM)
Portable stations (pneumatic, inductive, etc.)
affect driver behavior
Detectors at intersection
Automatic counts
Pneumatic tubes
laid across the lane in which data are to be
When moving vehicle passes over, an air impulse is
transmitted to the counter.
two tubes are placed across the lane, 2 m apart.
An impulse is recorded when the front wheels of a
moving vehicle pass over the first tube;
a second impulse is recorded when the front wheels
pass over the second tube.
The time elapsed between the two impulses and the
distance between the tubes are used to compute
the speed of the vehicle.
Automatic counts

Inductive loop
volume & speed data can be collected
a rectangular wire loop buried under the roadway
It operates on the principle that a disturbance in the
electrical field is created when a motor vehicle passes
across it.
Almost maintenance-free,
most widely used
Automatic counts
Radar-Based Traffic Sensors
Electronic-Principle Detectors
traffic characteristics such as speed,
volume, queues, and headways are
Using video image processing

Source: Garber & Hoel 2015

5.5 Travel Time and Delay Studies

Modified form of speed study.

Used in urban areas to determine

congestion points.
5.5.1 Methods for Gathering Travel Time Data

Test car methods

Average car, Floating car
Licence plate matching methods
Time and registration numbers of vehicles at points
ITS probe vehicle techniques
Advanced technologies, Cell phones , GPS satellite
technology is used to determine average speeds and
travel times along highways
Average car
Driving the test car along the length of the test section at a
speed that, is the average speed of the traffic stream.
Time required to traverse the test section is noted.
Test run is repeated
The average time is recorded as the travel time.
Travel time is usually obtained
The observer starts a stopwatch at the beginning point of
the test section and stops at the end.
A second stopwatch also may be used to determine the time
that passes each time the vehicle is stopped. This will give
the stopped-time delay
Floating car technique
Test car is driven by driver with an observer along
the test section.
The driver attempts to pass as many vehicles as
those that pass his test vehicle.
Time taken to traverse the study section is recorded.
This is repeated, and the average time is recorded as
the travel time.
sample size usually 8 - 12
Licence plate method
Methods Not Requiring a Test Vehicle
License-Plate Observations: observers at the beginning and end of the
test section.
Each observer records the last three or four digits of the license plate of
each car that passes, together with the time at which the car passes.
In the office by matching the times of arrival at the beginning and end of
the test section for each license plate recorded.
Difference between these times is the traveling time of each vehicle.
Average of these is the average traveling time on the test section.
A sample size of 50 matched license plates would be sufficient.
Illustration of LPM matching

Source: FHWA 1998

Bluetooth based technologies
Matching Bluetooth signals to estimate
travel time and Origin Destination survey
ITS probe vehicle techniques
Instrumented vehicles in the traffic stream and remote
sensing devices
These vehicle can be personal, public or commercial
There are several types of electronic transponders and
Use of cellular phone activities also being used for
collecting travel time

Additional reference: Travel time data collection hand book, FHWA

5.5.2 Presentation of Results
Tabular, graphical and diagrammatical form

Location and cause of delays identified.

Time contour maps


Map showing Average Arterial contour map showing travel

Control Delay time from a starting point

Source: SEMCOG 200

Travel time - contour maps
5.6 Crash Studies
identification of hazardous
determining priorities for
evaluate safety improvements
(before and after) (Source: Chronical 2015)

measure of level of service

research to determine crash
Information obtained from
records of individual

Data sources:
police records
insurance records
public impressions.

Police data - limited

Serious injury
property damage > $ 2500
1. Crashes (formally known as Accident) is commonly accepted words for an
occurrence involving one or more transportation vehicles in a collision that results in
property damages, injuries, or death.
2. Crash severity
1. Fatal crash (A road traffic crash where there was at least one fatality within a specific
period of time)

2. Hospitalisation crash (injury crash requiring hospitalisation)

3. Medical treatment crash (injury crash requiring medical treatment)

4. Minor injury crash (injury crash requiring no medical treatment - i.e., minor injury, first-
aid only required or extent of injury unknown)

5. Property damage only crash. (A crash where no person was a fatality or injured casualty
and, at least one vehicle is towed away, or there was $2500 damage to property other
than vehicles (after 1 December 1999) or; there was $2500 damage to vehicle and
property (1 December 1991 to 1 December 1999) or; the value of property damage is
greater than $1000 (prior to December 1991).

DTMR 2012
Cost of crashes
BITRE (2009) estimated a set of average cost of road crashes for the following
categories for an individual as follows:

Fatality: $3,180,598
Serious injury: $316,869, and
Injury: $17,511

These figures were adjusted to current 2011 Quarter 3 prices

These cost includes:

Vehicle Unavailablity Cost, 1%; Disability Related Costs, 10%; Human Costs,
Medical and Other, 5%; Human Costs, Non-Pecuniary, 10%; Human Costs,
Other, 4%; Human Costs, Output Losses, 32%; Insurance Administration, 8%;
Travel Delay and Vehicle Operation, 5%; Vehicle Repair Cost, 24%; and Other
Costs, 1%
Crash Data Required
Basic data
type, result, date and time, precise location
events prior to crash
number and description of vehicles, road users
environmental conditions: weather, lighting
Roadway data
surface conditions
Traffic control devices
Data collection
Info. generally recorded by ticking boxes
precoded and not subject to bias
may not suit particular situation.

Crashes may be recorded in manual or

computerised system.

Generally stored according to location.

Crash incident report form
Definitions for coding accidents
Road Use Movement (RUM) Codes
5.6.1 Presentation of Crash Data
Crash spot maps
Map of area / road section
All maps indicated by coloured dots / pins

Collision Diagrams
Particular intersection
All crashes for specific period (eg year)

Crash summary form

Recommended when routine crash histories are
A typical crash spot map - Toowoomba
5.6.2 Uses of Crash Data
Identification of hazardous locations
Priority order for remedial actions established.

Crash costs
Used for establishing economic viability of changes.

Evaluation studies
Before and after studies.
5.6.3 Road Safety Audits

A formal examination of an existing or future

road, or traffic project
in which an independent, qualified examiner
looks at the project’s crash potential and / or
safety performance.
Objectives of a road safety audit
minimise the risk and severity of road crashes
minimise the need for remedial work after
reduce the whole-of-life costs of the project
improve awareness of safe design practices.

The essential elements of the process are:

● It is a formal process, not an informal one
● It is conducted by someone who is independent of the designer
● It is conducted by someone with appropriate experience and training
● It is restricted to road safety issues.
Application of Safety Audits
Example: for a new road audit may be conducted at:
• Feasibility stage
• Layout or preliminary design stage
• Detailed design stage
• Pre-opening stage
• In-service stage
5.7 Parking Studies
• Number and location of parking spaces;
• Existing parking practices (duration, etc);
• Need to vary time limits or install meters;
• Adequacy of existing enforcement methods.
5.7.1 Methods for Parking Studies
Select study area
Carry out inventory of defined
Carry out a cordon count
Carry out a parking usage study
Survey of all parking spaces at
regular intervals
Cordon count for parking study
Cordon count gives the accumulation of parking demands
Electronic data loggers can also be utilised for closed networks, where
the volume of all vehicles entering and leaving the network cordon are
recorded and the variation of In and Out movements are used to
estimate accumulation
Technologies in parking usage survey
Technologies are available for conducting observational
by video with automatic data logging facilities
electronic tagging or
via new ITS technologies such as electronic parking guidance systems and
Simple questionnaire survey

Austroads 2017
Typical inventory map
A typical observation sheet
Site visitation cycle times in each case is usually set to the signed parking time
limit or a subset, e.g., Hour restriction may have a 1 hour cycle or 30 or 15
minute cycles.
5.7.2 Presentation of Results
Tables, graphs and

Typical results:
Variation in demand with time
Variations in flow and vehicle
Parking durations
Compliance with regulations.
5.8 Origin and Destination Surveys
Indicate travel desires - origin and
Generally used for planning of transport
Location, design and programming of new or improved
highways, public transport, and parking facilities

Survey type depends on area and data

5.8.1 Methods of Conducting O-D Surveys

Recording registration numbers

large number of personnel required
Observers at the point entry and exit
limited O-D information
busy sites use random sampling
Techniques used
Last two/three digits of the registration numbers, depending on the
size of sample required.
Match the records to determine the journey time
Upper limit for the journey time can be set to discard the stopped
Handing postcards to drivers
vehicles need to be stopped - police required
stoppages minimal
Questions limited to five or six
low response rates – bias
Different colour can be used for indentify the location of
the survey point or different directions of travel
20% return is considered essential to improve accuracy
Advanced publicity is necessary to ensure public

There are plenty of new techniques such as

Roadside Interview
vehicles stopped - police required
more complete information
unbiased sample
considerable delay to motorists

Techniques used
Appropriate signs on the approaches to the survey point
are required
Effort must be to avoid congestion
Random sample
Interviews are carried out on traffic entering and leaving
a cordon line
Home Interview Survey
used to give broader road travel demand picture
random sample used - 5 to 20 %
complete information collected
expensive and time consuming

Information to be collected
number and kinds of vehicles owned, number of persons, sex, race,
occupation, industry, number of trips made by each person,
purpose of trip, original starting point and ultimate destination for
each trip, mode of transportation employed, and the time of day
during which each trip was made.

Data regarding parking of private passenger vehicles may also be

5.8.2 Presentation of Results
Generally pictorial presentation
flow diagrams
desire line diagrams.

Tabular and graphical information

Data collection methods

Delay time/queue

OD trips & routes


Travel time

OD trips

Collection methods

Conventional Collection
Manual       
Road sensors
- Loop inductors  
- Pneumatic tube   
Household travel surveys (HTS) 
Traffic cameras      
New technology collections
Road-side sensors
- Infrared sensors   
- Video image detection      
GPS – Based HTS     
Probe-based collection technologies
- In-vehicle GPS      
- Cellular mobile data      
- Bluetooth devices      
Real-time data to dynamic applications

Source: ITS ePrimer 2017

1. Austroads 2017, Guide to Traffic Management Part 3: Traffic Studies and Analysis,
Austroads publication, Sydney.
2. Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE). (2009). Road crash
costs in Australia 2006. Report 118.
3. Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR), 2012, Fatal Road Traffic Crashes in
Queensland in 2011,Traffic safety branch, Queensland
4. FHWA 1998, Travel time data collection handbook, Report No. FHWA-PL-98-035,
available at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/tvtw/natmec/00020.pdf
5. Garber, N.J. & Hoel, L.A. 2015, Traffic and Highway Engineering, SI-Edition, Cengage
Learning, Stamford, USA.
6. ITS ePrimer 2017, Joint Program Intelligent Transportation Systems, US Department of
Transportation, available at https://www.pcb.its.dot.gov/eprimer/module3p.aspx
End Module 5 - Part A