October 25


Traffic Corner Tuesday, brought to you by Spack Enterprise and its family of transportation-related companies, completed its latest webinar just over a week ago. Traffic Corner Tuesday is our monthly webinar presenting research, case studies, and interesting discussions on our favorite topic – transportation. For those who missed it, here’s a summary of that webinar along with a link to the webinar if you want to watch it (it’s short, about a half hour). You can also sign up for our next Traffic Corner Tuesday here.

The process of collecting turning movement counts, the basis of most if not all of our transportation studies, has certainly evolved. Originally, the process consisted of sitting at an intersection corner and essentially taking notes with paper and a clipboard. Works for sleepy intersections with little traffic, but not effective for many downtown and suburban areas.

Then we moved to count boards, which kept track of time and made tracking cars as easy as pressing a button. Fast forward again and we are in the camera age. Our current camera, internally developed at Spack Enterprise and available for sale at CountingCars.com, weighs about two pounds and can record about 50 hours’ worth of data. No reason you should be sending anyone out with a clipboard anymore in this day and age.

So why should you change to using video for your counts? Here’s our top ten list:

  1. Replace Tube Counters
  2. Identify and Remove Anomalies
  3. Obtain a True Average for your Peak Hour data
  4. Fully Evaluate the Traffic Signal Warrants
  5. Establish Greater Credibility for your Study
  6. Keep the Video File for Backup
  7. Complete a Safe and Efficient Engineering Review
  8. Create Better Signal Timing Plans
  9. Give Yourself a Competitive Advantage (for Consultants)
  10. (ish) Obtain Longer Counts and Cover Other Days

In addition to the hardware, we have developed a video processing service called CountCloud. Upload your video file to this system and we’ll get it counted fast with a guaranteed 72-hour turn-around. Sign-up for a free consult on CountingCars.com

And don’t forget to watch and listen to our discussion, including lots of questions after the main presentation, here. We go into more detail about the equipment, our top ten list, and our video processing service.

  • I agree with all of the reasons for two day counts, and typically will record 72 – 96 hours of video for a weekday count starting at 12:00 AM Monday morning. We typically put the cameras out on Saturday and pick them up on Friday. There is no extra cost for collecting the video assuming you have a camera with a long life battery and enough room on the storage. We use COUNTcam 200s with a week capacity. This allows us to select Tuesday and Wednesday, or Wednesday and Thursday for our counts, with two days of back up. It allows us to double check the variance between two days by looking at the peaks of another two days. This can’t really be done with just 48 hours because all we know is that there is a variance, but not which one is the truly unusual.

    Some clients report things that don’t happen everyday as issues, like excessive queue problems, and we can watch the problem times from the other two days in extreme fast forward.

    The downside is obviously the cost issue, and we have been eating the costs for the extra day’s count. It is a fraction of what it takes to count an extra day in the field. While it is sad to say, most clients are so cost conscious that we can lose a job by the cost of the second day’s count. Still, it is worth it for the peace of mind I have putting my stamp and signature on a report.

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    Mike Spack

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

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