Performance-Based Management of Traffic Signal Operations

With over 400,000 traffic signals deployed throughout the United States (US), traffic signal operations have a profound impact on the performance of urban streets. Poor signal timing is one of the primary causes of recurring congestion. Ideally, traffic signals should be retimed on a need basis, but because signal retiming projects are quite labor intensive, there is a tendency for such projects to be deferred or placed on an arbitrary schedule on the scale of years. Consequently, many agencies rely primarily on user complaints to identify problems. However, user complaints are often difficult to substantiate, and as such, do not always lead to a resolution. The operational and maintenance issues that cause poor signal operations could be substantially improved by introducing a performance-based approach to automatically identify and report problems to the engineering staff, before they generate user complaints. There have been numerous innovations in the development of automated traffic signal performance measures that can assist in this task. However, adoption of these methodologies has so far been limited to a few large agencies with the ability to employ technical staff such as computer programmers to build systems for converting the data into useful information. There is currently very little guidance for agencies without such resources on how to implement a traffic signal performance measure system. There is a need to develop a set of guidelines that fully defines the problem from a systems engineering perspective, and that helps agencies articulate their objectives and identify the appropriate performance measure tools that are the most effective for meeting those objectives within the constraints of available resources. The objective of this research is to help address the problem of poor signal system performance and improve the state of the practice by developing guidelines for agencies across a spectrum of resource levels to implement traffic signal performance measures.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 03-122

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Derr, B

  • Start Date: 20150626
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 39943

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01568392
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 03-122
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Jun 27 2015 1:00AM