April 2013 Catalyst

April 2013
When traffic signals run efficiently, local road networks become faster and safer. And with increasing congestion on our nation’s roadways, transportation engineers are looking for new ways to monitor and manage local traffic signal systems. Despite this growing need for traffic signal data and analysis, most existing signal control systems don’t make it convenient to monitor or archive traffic signal performance data. That’s where SMART Signal (Systematic Monitoring of Arterial Road and Traffic Signals) technology developed by University of Minnesota researchers comes in.
Every year, Americans face a steady stream of discouraging news. We’re spending more time stuck in traffic. Congestion in our metro areas is on the rise. Yet these reports focus almost exclusively on traffic mobility—how quickly travelers can move between any two points via automobile or transit. But according to a new University of Minnesota study, there’s much more to the story. The new study, Access Across America, goes beyond congestion rankings to focus on accessibility: a measure that examines both land use and the transportation system.
New vehicles today are sophisticated driving machines—and they’re also becoming rich sources of information. Sensors collect data about everything from how fast you’re going to when the wipers kick in. At the same time, GPS navigation systems and the infrastructure built for mobile devices are making it increasingly possible to track where vehicles are and gather vast amounts of data. What does this mean for safety? Capturing the actual behavior of drivers could lead to a “behavioral map” revealing how drivers dynamically experience and adapt to road networks—and give engineers and designers insight for creating a safer driving experience
Charles Zelle began his work as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) on January 15. Previously, Zelle served as president and CEO of Jefferson Lines, a Minneapolis-based transportation company providing travel services in 13 states across the Midwest. Read about his vision for MnDOT and his goals for transportation research and innovation.
Publication Credits 

Publisher/DirectorLaurie McGinnis

Managing EditorPamela Snopl

EditorsChristine Anderson, Amy Friebe, Michael McCarthy

DesignerCadie Adhikary

Student InternsKristin Havercamp, Nicola Losik

Freelance WriterMegan Tsai