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Modal Highway Consultants Ltd

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News Story

Why Transport Planners Require Traffic Surveys?

When it comes to transport planning, an essential basic requirement is obtaining a sound understanding of the actual conditions on the ground in order to predict what the conditions would be in the future. Often, the only way to achieve this is by obtaining an accurate measure of traffic (vehicle/pedestrian) numbers. This is often expanded to encapsulate vehicle types and speeds. If the objective requires more detailed data, then the journey length, the purpose of the journey and the frequency of the journey may also need to be determined.

There are a variety of traffic survey or traffic counting methods used on UK traffic networks ranging from manual counting, pneumatic road tubes and video cameras to emailed questionnaires and telephone surveys. Modal Group are familiar with all types of traffic surveys, but predominantly use camera technology as it offers a high level of accuracy (99.6%) alongside the flexibility of getting quality data at awkward junctions and the like. Unlike manually counted traffic surveys with staff counting on-site, a video survey can also be used for other purposes such as looking at driver or pedestrian behaviour, determining queue lengths or even identifying issues that may not be known.

Traffic Survey Purposes

Traffic surveys are used for a variety of purposes including helping to resolve national, regional and local traffic issues. In particular, the data gathered plays a major role in informing the decision making process in transport planning. This may include contributing to projects related to the planning, construction and maintenance of transport infrastructure. Importantly, with major investment apparently in short supply, traffic survey reports influence investment in future infrastructure as well as making the best of our current road networks. On a local level surveys are also utilised for smaller projects that may deal with parking issues or the effectiveness of traffic calming measures in regards to road safety issues.

On a small project surveys may only be required to determine vehicle 85th percentile speeds and two-way link (road) counts. This would help determine such issues as visibility splays and highway capacity and whether the development proposals would have an adverse affect on the highway.

Larger development schemes would require much larger studies which may require turning counts at a number of junctions, vehicle speed surveys, pedestrian desire line surveys, vehicle queue surveys and even observing how often pedestrians cross at a crossing and the affect that may have on vehicle flow. In some instances, particularly where there may be some new road building (such as a bypass) origin and destination surveys may be required across the study area, which typically can be carried out using number plate surveys at all entry and exit points to the study area as well as within the study area at major intersections in order to track individual car movements.

A recent requirement for many development proposals is to develop Travel Plans for the development end user. The Travel Plan is a “live” document that is meant to evolve over time in order to meet targets associated with reducing car travel and encouraging either car sharing or the use of other modes of travel and thus creating a sustainable modal shift. The basis of the Travel Plan is therefore a survey of staff/residents, looking at their travel characteristics and their willingness to change if they are given various incentives. The Travel Plan survey can either be carried out manually (face to face) or on-line as staff log in to their workplace computers. The survey would need to be carried out at the inception of the Travel Plan and then either annually or every two or three years in order to track any changes, to identify if targets are met or indicate areas where further work/incentives may be needed.

The requirements for surveys therefore form the basis of most of the work Transport Planners carry out. Accurate and reliable traffic surveys are a must have. Modal Group Ltd is therefore unique in that it is a Transport Planning firm that has expanded into surveys and therefore it understands why the surveys are required and how they are going to be used which may determine how the survey is carried out.

Based in Cumbria, Modal Group are ideally placed for carrying out a variety of traffic surveys across the UK. If you'd like to discuss without obligation your traffic survey requirements then please contact Petros Price at Modal Group on 015398 86015. Alternatively, you can get in touch via the website contact page at Highway Consultants.