The use of adaptive traffic control systems (ATCS) has been on the rise for busy corridors, having shown to improve travel times between 10-50 per cent. Not only that, but a recent transportation research study showed that ATCS had a positive impact on driver behaviour, and even reduced driver stress and heart rate. With an estimated 30 per cent of road crashes caused by driver stress, it’s clear that the benefits of a robust ATCS extend beyond saving time on the roads.
Unfortunately, ATCS account for less than one per cent of all traffic signals, which means there’s still too much delay, too many unnecessary stops, and yes - too much stress.
The FHWA asserts that the reliability and accuracy of the decisions made by the adaptive algorithms cannot be achieved without well-maintained detection. In other words, the better the data fed into the ATCS, the better it is at adjusting signals to live traffic patterns, like an automated stress-reliever.
Successful adaptive systems around the world are equipped with wireless magnetometers, like the FlexMag sensor provided by Sensys Networks. Unlike loops, these detectors don’t require tearing up roads or rewiring intersections and take just 25 per cent of the time to install versus loops. Perhaps most importantly, these same wireless sensors are even more accurate but also robust enough to outlast the abuse roadways suffer from vehicles and weather.
Cape Town, South Africa uses FlexMag exclusively for detection for its ATCS. This technology was chosen primarily due to its accuracy as well as the lower lifecycle cost of the system. “The installation of this system is so much easier than loops, especially since it does not require power where the detection is located,” says Syntell’s Andrew Houliston, who oversaw the project in Cape Town.