Controlling Traffic in Larger Cities

Grid powered dynamic message signs

Driving can be difficult in many larger cities. If you have ever been to a large metropolitan city, such as New York or Chicago, you were probably surprised at how different the driving conditions were from your home state. These cities have hundreds of thousands of residents living in the city and outside the city, commuting into it. The traffic conditions can get pretty hectic. It can be difficult to understand the traffic rules and regulations in these larger cities, even if you regularly drive the city. Lane control signs and other traffic signs is an important tool for communicating these city regulations to the cities drivers.

Driving in these larger cities, especially if you are not used to the driving conditions can be very dangerous. In fact, in New York, approximately 4,000 New Yorkers are seriously injured and more than 250 are killed each year in traffic crashes. Chicago can be just as serious. In 2012, there were more than 77,000 reported traffic crashes in the city of Chicago that significantly injured nearly 21,000 people and killed 145 people, which is about 55 people per day injured or killed in Chicago traffic crashes.

These larger cities have taken steps to prevent the dangerous driving conditions in their cities. Methods include public transportation, more taxi cabs who are familiar with the specific driving conditions, and lane control signs. Lane control signs are mostly useful in communicating specific city messages and traffic conditions to those not as familiar with the larger city driving.

For example, in the city of Chicago, there are specific lanes on the road for those who are carpooling. Carpooling helps reduce the number of vehicles on the road, as people are driving into the city together. If you are a single passenger and you are driving in the carpool lane, you can receive a ticket and a large fine. The carpool lane is not a thing in many smaller cities, so those traveling into the city may not be aware of this law. Lane control signs are a great way to inform people and visitors.

The dynamic message signs can also be helpful in notifying current residents of traffic wait times. The traffic conditions in a large city can quickly change, depending on the amount of vehicles on the road, at the specific time. As a driver, it can be difficult to gauge an accurate arrival time. A variable message sign can inform the drivers of any wait times or suggested travel times to larger parts of the city. These drive times can be affected by weather conditions, traffic accidents, and normal traffic conditions.

Based on research conducted during the project planning period, ODOT determined that the accuracy of travel time data posted onto the DMS should not drop below a threshold of 70%. When the system was turned on, the accuracy during free flow conditions was over 95%, while the accuracy during periods of congestion was approximately 70%. These variable message signs with traffic slow down and arrival times are very accurate and can be extremely helpful when attempting to navigate a busy city.

The signs can also be helpful in notifying drivers of a change in road conditions. For example, a construction project might prevent drivers from taking a normal route. They may be unaware of the best detour to take. The lane control signs can inform drivers of suggested routes and even of the road closing times. The signs can also inform drivers of poor driving conditions, due to slippery or snow filled roads.

The blank out signs do not take much to run. In fact, most of them are solar powered, running off the sun?s charge. The solared powered variable message signs are a great option for many larger cities, because they control traffic and they are cost effective.

Cities like New York and Chicago can be extremely difficult to navigate, whether you are a tourist or not. The traffic conditions can get very busy, even causing accidents and injuries. Lane control signs are a great way for cities to notify drivers of any city specific laws and regulations, or to inform drivers of any slow downs, even telling them when they can expect to arrive at their destination.

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