Roadscapes Stuff

Roadscapes Wednesday: Active Traffic Management Signs

Roadscapes Geek Alabama

In many places over in Europe, you see these massive signs overhead on the highways.  These signs tell drivers about upcoming things like accidents, road work, weather hazards, and other things.  These signs can also drop the speed limit so drivers will not suddenly run up and have to hit the brakes.  This technology has worked in Europe for decades.  And now, this technology is now being used in the United States.

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The Washington DOT calls these signs Active Traffic Management.  Active Traffic Management (ATM) is a strategy used to reduce collisions associated with congestion and blocked lanes.  About 50% of traffic congestion is due to events like collisions or disabled vehicles.  Here’s a video describing how the technology works!

The system uses overhead lane signs to provide advance notice of traffic conditions.  The signs includes variable speed limit signs which direct drivers to incrementally reduce their speeds.  They include symbols that direct drivers to change lanes when a lane is blocked. And they also include overhead message signs that warns drivers of slowdowns, backups and collisions ahead.   The state of Minnesota also uses this technology on their roads as well!

From MNDOT

From MNDOT

Active Traffic Management is a new technology in America and WSDOT is the first state transportation agency to use the system in the United States.  The system decreases last second avoidance maneuvers and panic braking, primary factors contributing to collisions.   Look, I love this technology because it works!  I know some people will say that this technology is a waste of taxpayer money.  But let me ask you this question, do you want to be stuck in traffic for hours or do you want to get around the traffic jam?

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From FHWA

From WIS International

From WIS International

So, will Alabama ever get around to installing the Active Traffic Management Signs in metro areas like Birmingham.  I would say that they are badly needed!  But remember, this is Alabama, where some traffic cameras don’t work, many Interstate lights don’t work, the dynamic message signs barely work, and the roads are poorly maintained.  So I would not count on it.