Incorporate real-time data collection capabilities when updating traffic signals to better target signal maintenance needs.
From the 2007 National Traffic Signal Report Card Technical Report.
Made Public Date


United States

National Traffic Signal Report Card: Technical Report 2007


The 2007 Traffic Signal Self-Assessment, a voluntary self-assessment survey, was taken by 417 agencies in the US and Canada in 2006, in order to determine their "report card" grade for traffic signal operations. This report card uses a questionnaire to determine grades for management, individual signal operations, coordinated signal operations, signal timing practices, traffic monitoring and data collection, and maintenance. The self-assessment is one way for agencies to evaluate their existing practices and create a plan to improve their traffic signal operations and management. The 2007 National Traffic Signal Operation Report Card Technical Report synthesizes the results of that survey and provides some case study examples of improvements made by upgrades to signal timing and the benefits received by the travelers in their service areas.

Lessons Learned

The traffic monitoring and data collection section was the lowest-scoring section regardless of signal system size or type of agency. Without regular traffic data collection, it is difficult for an agency to assess the need to update signal timings on a routine basis or to react to fluctuations in traffic due to incidents or other events. Traffic monitoring and data collection are essential to uniform measurement of overall system performance and provide valuable input to the resource allocation process. This further indicates an area where agencies must focus their attention to improve performance.

The City of Plano, Texas used the opportunity of replacing their signal systems to incorporate real-time data collection and archiving in order to allow engineers to improve the system and target their maintenance needs. These increased data collection capabilities allowed the signals division to place a heavy emphasis on customer service, moving all modes (both motorized and non-motorized) through the system effectively and efficiently.

System Engineering Elements