All divisions at the Utah DOT TOC experienced improved staffing and better resource allocations when they had improved weather information.
The experience of the Utah Department of Transportation's Weather Operations Program's integration into the Traffic Operations Center.


United States

Evaluation of the Utah DOT Weather Operations/RWIS Program on Traffic Operations

Summary Information

While there have been many studies done to evaluate the benefits of using road weather information to improve roadway conditions for drivers, no study had previously been done to evaluate the impact of Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS) on Transportation Management Center (TMC) operations. The study focused on the Utah Department of Transportation's Traffic Operations Center (TOC) and how the year-round stationing of meteorologists through the RWIS Program impacted the operations of the TOC divisions, including the Incident Management, Traffic Signal Systems and Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) divisions. The report also includes a literature review on the impacts of weather on travel variables (travel time, speed, traffic volume, and roadway capacity). This report presents the qualitative benefits as described by staff members of a traffic operations center (TOC) who use information from the Weather Operations Program. The report was based on a series of interviews conducted with staff members to determine the ways in which having weather information supported operations.

All five of the divisions of the Traffic Operations Center (TOC) experienced better staff and resource scheduling as a result of having the Weather Operations Program as part of the daily operations of the TOC. It allows the divisions to receive forecasts days in advance so they can staff accordingly and the localized forecasts allow for resources to be dispatched to locations that are receiving the worst weather in order to reduce response times.

The benefits received by each of the five divisions through the integration of the RWIS program are listed in the table below.

Table 13: Benefits of the Program

Incident Management
  • Easier to learn about weather information
  • More flexible staffing
  • Reduce incident response time
Traffic Management
  • Better traveler information
  • Quicker dissemination of weather information to the public
  • More effective staff organization
Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS)
  • Safer and easier to work in the field
  • Better planning of field construction
  • Help optimize runtime on equipment
Signal Systems
  • Help develop snow plans
  • Help identify weather conditions and request running of snow plans
  • Improve LOS with snowplow operators
Public Safety
  • Help pro-act (instead of react) to weather situations