Collecting data first step in fixing roads

By Shive-Hattery

Collecting data first step in fixing roads

Need for accuracy makes cameras a great option

Before spending thousands or even millions of dollars on widening roads or adding signals, communities can get an accurate picture of how traffic is moving through the target intersections. Traffic data collection arms you with the information you need to determine the right-sized traffic solution for your community:

  • Do we need to add turning lanes or signals?
  • Should lanes be expanded?

Traffic data can be obtained quickly, accurately, and pinpointed to the information you specifically need to answer these questions and more. Video is also provided so that you can reference it as needed.

How to use the information

You can use the information to do a traffic impact study on an intersection. By knowing existing volumes, you can determine if the improvements are warranted. This includes the addition of future traffic volumes to the existing network.

If a development is being built, we can do trip generations based on the current data to determine additional future needs.

Benefits of data collection

  • Accuracy – Video recordings decrease human error
  • Keep working through inclement weather – Recordings can be done in rain, heavy winds, snowfall, and other poor weather that would make it difficult for a human to accurately record
  • Quick turnaround – Usually takes just a week from the signing of a contract to being able to view and download traffic data
  • Scheduling of data collection times – Programmable cameras can record just during the peak traffic hours or 24 hours a day
  • Cost – Relatively low compared with paying a person to sit and count cars
  • The data is saved forever – Information is stored on Miovision’s “Central” platform as well as at Shive-Hattery
  • Can do a wide range of counts – 24-hour, pedestrian, bicycle, roundabout, turning-movement (the most common), and vehicle gap counts are just a few of the options available
  • Better utilization of personnel – Using cameras to count vehicles frees up engineers to work on other projects

How data is collected

At Shive-Hattery, we use Movision’s Scout video collection units and TimeMark pneumatic counters. The Scout units, which have a 72-hour battery life, can record basic turning movement volumes, road volumes, trail volumes, pathway junction counts, and roundabout counts.

The pneumatic counters are black tubes that string across the street and record vehicle volumes, classifications, speeds, and gap timings. These counters can be set up in many different ways based on what data needs to be collected.

When a traffic impact study needs to be done, the first step is collecting data so that we know what the current traffic situation is. We set up the units at the intersection; most can be done with just one camera, although larger intersections and roundabouts require two. Counts are usually done Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, which are the most “average” traffic days, unless the client wants weekend information as well. The cameras can run the full 72 hours to obtain 24-hour data to be used for AADT volumes, or be scheduled to record at specific times to only collect peak hours.

The information you receive includes: 
  • Vehicle counts that can differentiate between motorcycles on up to heavy vehicles, as well as pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Videos, which can be filtered by time of day taken
  • Infographics and PDF reports
  • Ability to share data, files and videos with public from your own website
    An interactive map that links to videos and infographics for each location you’ve studied, that can be added to with each study done
The information can be ready in 24 hours, but standard is 72 hours.


A year ago, Shive-Hattery did a traffic impact study for Iowa City that involved approximately 40 signalized intersections. Having traffic data collection equipment allows us to handle larger studies quickly and accurately without devoting a large number of engineers to the data collection.

A recent traffic count collection for Hiawatha involved six intersections and a trail count to determine pedestrian usage of the trail. The intersection of Center Point Road and Emmons Street/Robins Road posed a unique situation, because it is an irregular, skewed intersection. By using two cameras, we were still able to determine vehicles’ movement from all angles of the intersection.

A study in Moline, Ill., included a turning movement count at Fourth Avenue and 12th Street as well as a roadway volume collection on Fourth Avenue. The reason for this study included the development of a nearby hotel as well as the plan for a future transit stop in the area. Shive-Hattery was involved in the Intersection Design Study (IDS), which included the traffic data collection and analyzation as well as the full design of the recommended improvements.

Data collection may seem like a small step in the process of transforming a road or intersection, but it is a crucial one. Without accurate information, the best decisions about what needs to be done cannot be made. Using cameras and pneumatic counters is a great option that gives clients the accuracy, flexibility and responsiveness they are looking for.

<< Back to Blog Listing

Print Print