Evaluation of Vehicle Detection Systems for Traffic Signal Operations

Typical vehicle detection systems used in traffic signal operations are comprised of inductive loop detectors. Because of costs, installation challenges, and operation and maintenance issues, many alternative “non-intrusive” systems have been developed and are now commercially available. Field-testing was conducted to evaluate nine alternative vehicle detection systems (four video, two radar, one thermal, and two hybrid) at the stop bar zone of a signalized intersection under six conditions: (a) daytime, (b) nighttime, (c) favorable conditions, (d) windy conditions, (e) rain, and (f) snow. The sensors were set up with two detection zones: one for the through and right-turn movements (Zone 1) and one for the left-turn lane (Zone 2). Trained personnel installed all systems, and decisions on the mounting locations were made by each system manufacturer.Based on the results of this study, it can be concluded that there is no single system that universally performs better than all other systems. Depending on the time of day or weather condition, many of the system types tested could claim that their technology outperforms all others. However, based on the percentage of false and missed detections for all products representing the different system types, there are opportunities for future improvement and enhancement. The acceptable tolerance level ultimately must be decided upon by the agency operating a particular signal, and it is recommended, based on the results from this study, that specific performance standards be defined when solicitation of signal detection equipment occurs in the future.


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  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $149867.00
  • Contract Numbers:

    RP 236

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Idaho Department of Transportation

    P.O. Box 7129
    3311 W. State Street
    Boise, ID  United States  83707-1129
  • Project Managers:

    Christensen, Bruce

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Idaho, Moscow

    Office of Sponsored ProgramsNational Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology
    P.O. Box 443020
    Moscow, ID  United States  83844-3020
  • Principal Investigators:

    Abdel-Rahim, Ahmed

  • Start Date: 20140324
  • Expected Completion Date: 20160731
  • Actual Completion Date: 20160930
  • Source Data: RiP Project 36446

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01523496
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Idaho Transportation Department
  • Contract Numbers: RP 236
  • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Apr 27 2014 1:00AM