How to Optimize Traffic with Intelligent Traffic Solutions?

Transportation and traffic solutions concept

No one likes sitting in traffic, particularly on a slow day when cars are backed up for seemingly forever. Fortunately, cities nationwide are working hard to alleviate traffic congestion with the power of technology. Although self-driving cars and smart road systems are still a long way off, current tech solutions are making a huge impact.

These days, an intelligent traffic management system (TMS) can help move more cars on existing infrastructure, allowing cities to avoid building new roads or expanding current ones. As more data is collected and managed with these systems, cities will get smarter and improve traffic conditions significantly over time.

So, with that in mind, let’s look at how intelligent traffic solutions can optimize traffic flow, no matter a city’s layout or population.

What is an Intelligent Traffic Management System (TMS)?

An intelligent traffic management system is a network of devices connected via cloud-computing software to monitor, analyze, and optimize the flow of traffic at any given time.

A big reason traffic exists is that many cars simultaneously use the same roads. However, if a single entity could identify where each car was going and optimize its route according to its destination, it would be much easier to improve the flow of traffic. Bottlenecks and other choke points are often the centers of attention to ensure the best flow to move as many cars as possible.

That said, for a traffic management system to work, it requires numerous components and programs to handle such massive amounts of data. Also, it’s imperative to recognize that a TMS is still limited. Drivers ultimately have control and can make split-second decisions that could impact traffic in all directions.

Nonetheless, management systems are designed to adapt to current road conditions and optimize traffic as much as possible. With these components working together, cities can create noticeable differences in their congestion rates.

Core Elements of a TMS

A traffic management system must utilize a wide array of unique devices and programs to work efficiently. There must also be human supervisors and analysts to ensure that the system is working correctly and correct any issues that may arise. While some cities may need additional equipment, the basic elements of a TMS include the following:

  • Traffic Cameras – Operators and programmers need to know the current flow of traffic so they can adjust lights and other traffic control elements.
  • RFID Sensors – These sensors can read data about individual vehicles and prioritize traffic accordingly. For example, truck-only lanes or expedited service for emergency vehicles.
  • Connected Traffic Light Systems – As the software analyzes current traffic conditions, it needs to be able to adjust the lights accordingly. For example, extending green lights or shortening red lights at key intersections.
  • Edge Devices – These gadgets help boost the signal and provide better real-time data so the system can update more efficiently.
  • Traffic Control Apps – Many drivers use GPS programs like Google Maps to get around. These apps can work with traffic management systems to divert some traffic and alleviate congestion on main roads, such as highways or toll roads.
  • Automated Toll Collectors – Drivers that use toll roads frequently can use RFID scanners to pay fees automatically instead of stopping and transacting with a person.

How Does a TMS Optimize Traffic?

Because traffic management systems require a significant upfront investment, cities must ensure they can work correctly and produce substantial results. While the specifics of each system will vary based on different conditions (i.e., weather, construction, protests, collisions), here is how a TMS can optimize traffic:

Step One: Monitor High-Congestion Areas

Rather than install cameras and sensors at every intersection, cities can focus on high-congestion areas, including streets, intersections, and off-ramps. A TMS can alleviate congestion everywhere else by controlling traffic in these areas.

Step Two: Verify the Flow of Traffic

Traffic tends to flow in one direction, depending on the time of day. Knowing this information means the system can optimize the flow for the majority of traffic, not for individual cars.

Step Three: Update Lights and Signals

As a general rule, green lights should be longer, and red lights should be shorter for cars moving in the direction of the majority of traffic. Once the system knows which intersections or congestion points affect the flow of traffic the most, it can adjust the lights accordingly.

Step Four: Update Signage (if Applicable)

Some cities deploy smart signage that adjusts based on current traffic conditions. For example, speed limits can be lowered to reduce the overall flow of traffic and ensure fewer congestion points. Similarly, some lanes could be reserved for toll customers or high-occupancy vehicles (HOV) during peak traffic hours.

What are the Benefits of a Traffic Management System?

While drivers can certainly appreciate faster roads and less traffic, cities have a few other reasons to invest in these systems. Some other tangible benefits can include:

  • Reduced Pollution – As more cars move faster throughout the city, they produce less exhaust, meaning less pollution.
  • Fewer Collisions – Although drivers can still get into accidents with other cars, management systems can force them to pay more attention to their surroundings and reduce the overall number of incidents.
  • Better for Alternative Transportation – Many people like to ride alternative transportation methods, such as buses, trains, or even bicycles. With TMS in place, these methods become safer for everyone to use, encouraging more engagement. Over time, fewer cars on the road may lead to better traffic conditions at all times.

How Worksafe Traffic Control Industries Helps with Intelligent Traffic Solutions

Worksafe Traffic Control Industries is committed to helping these systems work as efficiently and effectively as possible. We provide high-quality signage that can make it easier for a TMS to manage traffic during peak periods or when an incident can impact the flow (i.e., a protest or collision). Our signage is MUTCD compliant, and we offer fast turnaround times. Contact us today to find out how we can make traffic control easier!

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