November 3


6 Must Have Features for a Traffic Counting Vehicle

By Mike Spack

November 3, 2015

DOT, traffic, traffic counting van, van, vehicle

Traffic Data Inc Van

Our data collection firm, Traffic Data Inc., is now on the market for a new traffic counting vehicle. We wanted to share with you some of the features we’re looking for. These are things that we’ve noticed in other vehicles and simple best practices from our experience.

In 2013, we ran a competition among local agencies to see who had the best traffic counting van. You can watch the video at the end of this article. It was a fun, and admittedly silly, video that received a lot of positive feedback. Here’s what we’ve learned …

  1. Size to fuel-efficiency ratio
    • You want a van that will carry enough gear, but you don’t want a gas guzzler. We’ve looked at Transit vans, but the fuel-efficiency just isn’t there. We’ve had good experience with standard mini-vans.
  2. Safety Lights
    • These are a must. We purchased our tail and headlight flashers from Strobes N’ More. It’s a great resource for safety lights of any kind.
  3. Traffic counting magnets / stickers
    • People get curious when they see you setting up on the side of the road. A simple magnet or car decal that says “traffic counting team” can help you avoid uncomfortable conversations. I made the mistake once of telling a curious citizen we were with the NSA. Needless to say, it didn’t go well.
  4. Tube Racks
    • Sliding tubes racks seem to be popular. They work for some people, but we also use our van for video-based counts. Meaning, we don’t want to have tubes taking up space when we aren’t setting up tubes. We use Rubbermaid bins for tubes. If you do primarily tube counts, then I’d look into some tube racks for behind the driver side seat.
  5. Double-side sliding doors
    • Having sliding doors on both sides of the vehicle (e.g.: minivan style) is great for not having to step into traffic. It means that you’ll be able to access gear regardless of the side of road you’re setting up on.
  6. Auxiliary Jack
    • Being able to plug in a device to listen to music / podcast is something to consider. Radio stations don’t cut it anymore (at least not for our team). Getting a streaming music service or podcast going helps makes the drive a lot more enjoyable.

These are features we like. What have you found that works? Let us know in the comments section.

P.S. One shameless plug…If you are looking for traffic counting equipment to fill your vehicle, the friendly team of professionals at are ready to help you.

[youtube id=”/UPVplMH14Co”]


{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
Mike Spack

My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

Get these blog posts sent to your email! Sign up below.