If you drive a car, you know how traffic jams can interrupt your day. Whether you’re commuting to work, heading to a restaurant, or just running errands, these jams can disrupt modern life. But, we’re living in the future, where we have tiny mobile computers in our pockets. Surely, technology can come along to help?
Yes, yes, it can. While cities and counties have been slow to react to the changing traffic landscape, we’re starting to see high-tech solutions to old-fashioned problems. This article will dive into how traffic control is getting more advanced and why that’s a good thing for everyone.
What is Traffic Control?
The essential premise of traffic control is managing the flow of vehicles on the road. As more cars, trucks, and buses clog the streets, traffic control supervisors can adjust the flow to alleviate areas of congestion.
There are a few ways that cities handle traffic control, including:
- Signs – Drivers can change their behavior based on the signs in their area. Some examples can include stops, speed limits, or no parking signs.
- Traffic Lights – One second extra on a red light may not seem like much, but it can have a significant ripple effect. Traffic lights need to be synchronized to ensure traffic flows as smoothly as possible.
- Street Design – City planners often try to figure out how to make traffic flow better without extra materials or signs. For example, a roundabout allows traffic to move continuously compared to a light or four-way stop.
Top Challenges of Traffic Control
As cities become more populated, traffic control will only become more vital. Even with public transportation available in major cities, more cars are on the road today than in decades past. So, these challenges are only worsening, such as:
- Congestion – Depending on where you live, it may seem like rush hour happens all day long. There was a time when congestion was limited to one hour or two, but in some places (i.e., Los Angeles), traffic jams seem constant.
- Emergency Vehicle Access – One substantial contributing factor of traffic jams is vehicle collisions. Whether it’s a fender bender or a multi-car pileup, emergency vehicles (EVs) need to respond quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, as congestion worsens, it takes longer for EVs to arrive, making the situation even worse.
- Pollution – It’s no secret that vehicle exhaust is a significant factor driving climate change. So, the longer cars and trucks are on the road, the more pollution they emit. So, smarter traffic control solutions can help reduce the impact of climate change over the long term.
Traffic Control Technologies
When it comes to high-tech traffic solutions, most people focus on self-driving vehicles. While the technology has the potential to eliminate traffic jams entirely, we’re still a long way off. Once self-driving cars are perfected, it will still take a couple of decades to experience a smoother commute to the office.
In the meantime, traffic control technicians have other tools they can use, such as:
- Artificial Intelligence – Machine learning is quickly overtaking most industries, including traffic control. Since there are so many cars on the road, it’s impossible for people to manage them efficiently. Instead, computers can adjust to changing conditions on the fly, leading to better results and fewer jams.
- Data Collection – Computers need to know how to respond to real-time traffic conditions. So, cities utilize various data collection points, including cameras, pilot vehicles, and sensors. That said, the challenge comes from collecting and processing all that information fast enough. Traffic control centers need high-speed wireless internet to ensure that they’re adapting to current conditions, not what traffic was like 20 minutes ago.
- Integrated Traffic Systems – A traffic system can consist of smart signs, streetlights, and cameras. When each component works in sync with the others, the system can adapt on its own without human intervention. For example, traffic lights can auto-sync when more cars are on the road.
Top Benefits of High-Tech Traffic Control Solutions
Cities across the country are investing in these technologies to help alleviate their traffic challenges. Here are the top reasons why traffic control should be a priority, especially for major metropolitan areas.
- Fewer Traffic Jams – Drivers are less stressed and more content when they’re not stuck in traffic. Happier individuals drive less aggressively, leading to fewer accidents and snarl-ups.
- Better Adaptability to Weather Conditions – Rain, ice, and snow can impact road conditions significantly. So, traffic control systems need to be able to adapt accordingly. Cities can utilize historical data to see how traffic changes in different weather conditions to help machines know how to respond. For example, the maximum speed limit may be lower during heavy rains to prevent collisions.
- Faster EV Response Times – Whenever a traffic accident does occur, emergency vehicles need to take precedence over cars and trucks. So, an adaptive traffic control system can allow EVs to maneuver more easily to clean up collision sites.
- Less Pollution – While this benefit is less immediate, cities need to do their part to combat climate change. So, better traffic control systems, in tandem with green vehicles, can help mitigate the effects of climate change.
Get Your Smart Traffic Control Solutions From WorkSafe TCI
Smart traffic signs are essential to help manage the flow of vehicles. Some examples include smart speed limit signs, construction signs, and adaptive weather signs. Since these elements are so valuable, you need to get them from a high-quality manufacturer. Worksafe Traffic Control Industries is committed to bringing high-tech solutions to cities of all sizes. Contact us today to find out more.