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The Benefits of Electronic Traffic Analysis

I’m not necessarily suggesting you install Paver Rumble Strips in your community. I don’t know enough about the conditions in your neighborhood to recommend them. When I meet with homeowner associations I always ask them to discuss their concerns with me so I have a better understanding of the situation.

I’m often told about speeding drivers, pedestrians and children in the street due to lack of sidewalks, near misses, poor lighting, long straight-a-ways and drivers running through stop signs. Sound familiar? I hear these same concerns all the time from Home Owner Associations and Community Managers.

Although the consensus is always drivers are speeding through the community, no one knows exactly how many drivers are speeding or how fast they are going. It’s just speculation and opinion.

I always recommend conducting an electronic traffic analysis in the community to quantify whether or not there is a need for any type of traffic calming device and if so, help determine the most effective locations. After completing the study I meet with the board and homeowners to discuss the data. In most cases I find they are right, they do have a problem. Even modestly higher speeds than those posted can spell the difference between life and death for pedestrians struck by a vehicle.

Communities with speed limits of 15 to 20 miles-per-hour will have 85th percentile speeds (the speed drivers are comfortable traveling) of around 30 MPH or more. Now someone will invariably say, “20 MPH, 30 MPH what’s the big deal?” Well, the “big deal” is if a pedestrian is hit by a car traveling at 20 MPH the fatality rate is only about 5% but at 30 MPH, only 10 MPH faster, the fatality rate jumps to 45%. At 40 MPH, the fatality rate is an alarming 85%! It’s not unusual to have data showing speeds of 40, 50, even over 60 MPH in these residential communities.

Pedestrian Fatality Rates at Impact Speeds
Pedestrian Fatality Rates at Impact Speeds

These fatality rates increase for children and seniors and the injuries sustained are often long term disabilities that are devastating to families. Although these communities may never have had an incident, if they do there is a very good chance someone is going to die or be very seriously injured.

The electronic analyzers are small devices that are attached to the pavement with a black rubber cover. They are hardly noticeable. Most people assume they are those rubber tubes attached to a metal box, but that’s not the case.

The analyzers align themselves with the earth’s magnetic field and detect metal traveling in one direction through an area about three feet in radius from the device. Placed in various locations throughout the community, they collect traffic data including: Vehicle volume, speed and classification (length). The information includes the following data consolidated into reports and graphs:

  • Vehicle Volume by Location and Time Range
  • Average Annual Daily Traffic Volume (AADT)
  • Peak Hourly Traffic Volume
  • Vehicle Speed by Location and Time Range
  • Percentage of Drivers Exceeding the Posted Speed Limit
  • Average, Mode and 85th Percentile Speeds
  • Braking Distance at 85th Percentile Speeds
  • Vehicle Count for Speed Bins (0-5MPH, 6-10MPH, 11-15MPH… 66-70MPH)

This data will eliminate any contentiousness among residents who may disagree whether there is a safety issue with drivers speeding in the community. The traffic study will also help to identify specific locations where traffic calming devices will be most effective.

Oftentimes the data will eliminate locations where residents perceive the need for a traffic calming device is required but low traffic volume or vehicle speed does not justify the expense. In some cases, the data shows the vast majority of drivers are traveling at safe speeds and even though there is a perceived need for traffic calming, the data suggests otherwise.

If you would like a sample of traffic analysis reports including a Data Spreadsheet that shows basic data for all locations tested, a Traffic Analysis Summary Report which contains more detailed information for each location and a Master Report that includes a massive amount of detailed data and graphs for those prone to over analysis, like myself, send a request via the Electronic Traffic Analysis request form at the top of this page.

I have found the most effective process is for me to attend the Homeowners Association meeting and discuss with residents and board members concerns about pedestrian and traffic safety in their community and answer any questions they may have regarding the traffic analysis, Paver Rumble Strips and the permitting process.   If they feel it would be a benefit to proceed with the traffic analysis, I will present a proposal at that time. Once the traffic analysis reports are complete I meet again with the board to discuss the results of the study and if necessary recommend potential locations for Paver Rumble Strips based on the data and the layout of the community.

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