Last edited 07 Apr 2021

Road traffic management

Road traffic management is a field of logistics that concerns the planning and control of traffic from one location to another. One of the main challenges of road traffic management is accommodating traffic in a safe and efficient way to reduce or eliminate accidents.

Most roadways include devices intended for traffic control, most of them involving direct communication with the road-user, such as signs, signals and pavement markings. These assist with navigation, assign right-of-way, areas of safe passage, indicate speed limits, provide instructions, advise of hazards, and so on. Other forms of traffic control include kerbs, rumble strips, median barriers, speed humps, and so on.

Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) are advanced applications that provide services relating to different modes of traffic management and the ‘smarter’ use of transport networks. They are based on the transfer of information between transport systems to improved safety and performance, including traffic management systems, information systems, warning systems, vehicle-to-infrastructure communication and vehicle-to-vehicle communication.

Traffic signal controllers are electronic devices located at intersections that control the sequence of the lights. Along with computers, communications equipment, and detectors to count and measure traffic, these controllers are frequently grouped into one system allowing the control of large numbers of traffic signals at intersections approaches to expressways and motorways, and so on.

Within the field of ITS, advanced traffic management systems (ATMS) integrate technology with a top-down management perspective that improves vehicle traffic flow and safety. The top-down perspective is achieved from a Transportation Management Centre (TMC) which receives real-time data from cameras, speed sensors, and so on. This data is processed and may inform actions such as traffic re-routing or using dynamic message signs (DMS).

Active traffic management is a method of increasing peak capacity and making traffic flows more efficient and smooth-flowing on busy roadways. Common techniques include DMS, variable speed limits, hard-shoulder running, ramp-metering, and so on.

In the event of incidents occurring, the control centre operator and automatic systems can change signs to alert road users, inform emergency services, and open and close lanes to keep traffic flowing and minimise delays.

Traffic restraint, or calming uses traffic control devices to create impediments for traffic rather than increasing efficiency of movement. Devices often used include speed bumps, barricades, turning prohibitions, stop signs and raised pavement markers. It can also be used in conjunction with initiatives to increase bicycle and pedestrian traffic, such as lower speed limits, wider pavements, bike lanes, and so on.

The Traffic Management Act (2004) provides powers to reduce road traffic congestion in urban areas.

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