Road tubes have been used for decades for average annual daily traffic (AADT) counts (also average daily traffic (ADT), automatic traffic recorder (ATR) counts, midblock counts or link counts). They have been effective in capturing ADT counts in the past, however, improvements in technology have made road tubes the “VHS” of data collection.
Technological advancements are improving processes within the transportation industry and providing more value in a time of limited resources.
Top five reasons to update your ADT data collection and abandon the tubes at the roadside:
Intrusive Traffic Data Collection Equipment
Road tubes are extremely intrusive and require placement across the road. In order to do this safely and effectively, traffic needs to be diverted in some manner. At best, this is just a hassle for smaller streets, but can be quite difficult for busy streets.
The road tubes need to be nailed down into place and often taped, which is not only intrusive, but damages the road. Non-intrusive technologies, such as Miovision’s video based traffic data collection equipment, provides an easy alternative to older technologies such as road tubes and can be setup to collect ADT data without ever entering the roadway.
Setup Time & Safety Concerns
As mentioned earlier, proper setup can take up quite a bit of time depending on the traffic and if a road closure is needed. At least two people are needed to setup the road tubes. It’s a good practice to have one individual “spotting” and watching out for traffic. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), laying out road tubes in high traffic areas is a safety hazard and there have been previous reports of serious injuries. Safety alone is a prime reason to invest in a safer traffic data collection method.
Traffic Data Accuracy and Auditing
According to the FHWA, a number of variables can contribute to inaccurate data collection. Higher than normal volumes and vehicles driving slowly can skew the data collected. Trucks driving at high speeds with thick tires can rip up the tubes as well. Road tubes that have been dislodged or cracked report inaccurate data, therefore, wasting the entire count. The FHWA also reported that road tube error rate can fall between 0.92-30% while video is about 5%.
Using a video-based technology provides the option of easily auditing traffic data collected by reviewing the video recording. Also, Miovision provides an option to export 4 legs of ADT data from a 24 hour intersection count which gives you access to five reports for the cost of one.
Road tubes are intrusive, therefore, certain environmental and weather conditions need to be met in order to effectively deploy the tubes. Areas that are affected by snow and ice in the winter cannot deploy road tubes.
From the perspective of Miovision (located in Canada), this affects almost all of the country and would be quite an inconvenience if we could only rely on road tubes for ADT data. Snow plows can also wreak havoc on deployed road tubes and basically create rework for the traffic data collectors. Even without snow, road tubes can be displaced by vehicles such as street sweepers, other weather conditions or people cutting them.
Limited Use in Certain Environments
Tubes are difficult to secure to roads that are uneven and in poor condition. If you read last week’s blog article, you’ll know that many roads within the USA are in a pretty poor state. Road tubes deployed on good condition roads can still be temperamental. They have limited lane coverage, can become displaced and require on-site maintenance, and tube length needs to be within a certain range in order to collect the traffic data without damaging the air switches.
Road tubes have been used for decades because they get the job done. Updating your traffic data collection process to Miovision’s video-based system gets the job done in a safer manner and caters to your needs and environment.
Just point, click and count.