Traffic Signals: NTOC Asks, “Have You Assessed Yours Lately?”

The National Transportation Operations Coalition (NTOC) recently announced that its 2011 Traffic Signal Operations Self Assessment is now available.

It has been shown time and time again that investment in traffic signal operations is one of the most cost effective means to improve transportation system operations, yet it continues to be one of the most under funded. What the NTOC has done is put together a way for those in the traffic signal timing world to come together and use their data in such a way which will be mutually beneficial to them in the future.

Traffic Signal Self Assessment

The self assessment has two purposes. First, it gives agencies a benchmark to help understand opportunities for improving their own policies and practices. Second, for agencies that choose to participate, the results of the self assessment will be used (anonymously) in the 2011 National Traffic Signal Report Card. The results will become part of the national media event designed to focus attention on the need for more resources for traffic signal operations.

Since the introduction of the Self Assessment in 2005, the United States’ overall grade has increased from a D- to a solid D. This increase has been attributed to the additional media coverage the NTOC has brought to the subject, coupled with press materials which focused on the need for additional resources to support traffic signal operation.

Signal Timing Cost:Benefit Ratio

The lack of time and resources allocated to signal timing results in a loss for everyone, since we are all users of the road, but it’s the city Traffic Engineers that have to field calls from unhappy citizens and stakeholders. It is not for lack of want that agencies cannot meet the recommended retiming intervals. Afterall, it’s hard to argue with the many research reports finding that optimal signal timings almost always have a winning cost:benefit ratio.

If you are a signal timing professional, I urge you to click here to participate! By doing your part you will help to bring well-deserved attention to the industry.