Road traffic control involves directing vehicular and pedestrian traffic around a construction zone, accident or other road disruption, thus ensuring the safety of emergency response teams, construction workers and the general public.
Traffic control also includes the use of CCTV and other means of monitoring traffic by local or state roadways authorities to manage traffic flows and providing advice concerning traffic congestion.
Traffic Control Technicians (TCT's) or Traffic Control Supervisors (TCS's) are often known as "lollipop men" (usually this name only applies to TCT's working near schools to aid pupils in road crossing) from the appearance of their Stop/Slow signs, known as "Stop bats".[ citation needed ]
Road Traffic control is an outdoors occupation, night or day for long hours in all weathers, and is considered a dangerous occupation due to the high risk of being struck by passing vehicles. Safety equipment is vitally important. Fatigue is a big issue, as tired TCT's may forget to watch their traffic, or may inadvertently turn their "Stop bats" to the "Slow" position. Many drivers are annoyed by the disruption to their route, and some are sufficiently antisocial as to aim at traffic controllers. Other drivers simply don't pay enough attention to the road, often from using their mobile (cell-) phones, or because they are tired from a night shift at work. Not a few are exceeding the posted speed limit.
Typically, a worksite will be set up with warning signage well in advance of the actual work area. This may involve (in Australia) "Roadworks Ahead", temporary speed restrictions, "Worker Symbolic" (a stylized workman with a pile of rubble, black silhouette on a retroflective orange background), "Reduce Speed", "Lane Status" boards (indicating that some lanes on a multilane roadway will be closed), "Prepare to Stop" and advisory signs telling what is happening (e.g. Water Over Road, Trucks Entering, and Power Line Works Ahead). If lanes have been closed, large flashing arrows (Arrow Boards) on trailers may be utilized to give motorists hundreds of meters warning to move over. Motorists will be advised they are leaving a worksite by speed reinstatement or "End Roadworks" signs.
The worksite will usually involve closing a part of the road for the work area. How this is done depends on the type of road: on a multi-lane road, one or more lanes will be closed off and traffic merged into the remaining lane(s), using cones and " Chevron " signs and Arrow Boards to guide motorists. On a wide road (more than 3 meters per lane in Australia), traffic could be "diverted" around the work area by using cones to define a new road centerline and another line of cones around the work area. Sometimes, it is necessary to close a road and detour traffic.
Often, the road is not wide enough to permit opposing streams of traffic past the work area. Then it is necessary to use "Stop/Slow Paddles", where each stream is allowed past the work area in turn. On an intersection, this may involve four or more streams. At signalised intersections, it may be necessary to have the traffic lights disabled.
Sometimes on dual carriageways, it is necessary to divert one carriageway onto the opposing carriageway, forming a "contraflow". This cannot be done "on the fly", as high-speed (100+km/h), high-volume (500 - 1000+ vehicles per hour) traffic is involved, generating a huge risk to workers. In this case advisory signs will be erected weeks or even months in advance, and new lanes defined by bollards anchored firmly to the road-base will be installed, usually at night when traffic is expected to be minimal. Programmable Variable Message Signs may be utilized at strategic locations to inform motorists.
Traffic control is governed by the Australian Standard AS 1742.3 – 2009, and by State variations. Risk management is regulated under AS/NZS 4360:1999. Traffic controllers are required to wear high-visibility clothing which meets the Australian Standard AS/NZS 4602:1999.
Personal safety is emphasised in all Australian training. This ranges from proper clothing to learning appropriate behaviour (for example, always face oncoming traffic). Clothing is considered part of PPE—Personal Protective Equipment—which includes steel-capped boots, sunscreen, broad-brim hats, gloves and sunglasses.
The traffic control process usually starts with a traffic control plan. A traffic control crew may consist of one person running a simple diversion or closure of a cul-de-sac, up to multiple two- or three-person crews for a complex task. One example of such a complex task is the transport of very wide loads taking all available roadspace, over several kilometers, usually on an arterial road or highway. In these cases, the affected roads can be closed or contraflowed for the entire day, creating enormous disruption to motorists. Management of the event involves monitoring and closing all intersections, Stop/Slow to work traffic streams through partially closed intersections, and detours. The amount of signage required can be staggering, needing some hours to put in place. Normally a single two-person crew with one ute is sufficient for most jobs.
Not all TC's are employed by dedicated traffic management companies. Many construction companies and government authorities employ their own traffic management. In these cases, TC's will work in other capacities when traffic management is not required.
Traffic control is generally not seen as a career for young people, but rather as a stop-gap while something better is sought. However, older people are often valued by employers for their life-experience, and find that the relatively light manual labour compensates for the discomforts and rigours of the job. There is a career path, but it is dictated by one's own ability and willingness to work.
Accreditation course standards and variations to the Australian Standards are regulated by Main Roads Western Australia (MRWA), part of the Ministry of Planning and Infrastructure.
In Western Australia, use of the Stop/Slow bat is authorised under Regulation 83 of the Road Traffic Code 2000—it is an offence to disobey a traffic controller's bat, punishable by 3 demerit points and 3 penalty units (about A$175). Other States have similar provisions.
Traffic controllers must be accredited in Basic Worksite Traffic Management BCC3028A and the Worksite Traffic Controller Course BCC1014A. These qualifications must be renewed after three years, and a refresher course is necessary. The courses take about 4 hours each, and are designed as inductions to on-the-job training.
The Advanced Worksite Traffic Management (AWTM) requires two years experience as a qualified TC as a minimum prerequisite, and must also be renewed after three years. Roadworks Traffic Managers can be accredited with a minimum of five years experience, current "Road Safety Auditor" accreditation and current AWTM accreditation. This qualification is also valid for three years.
All employers require drug screening at least annually and often randomly, and many others require daily blood/alcohol tests; some require police clearance checks. Zero-tolerance is universal. Traffic controllers are usually employed on a casual basis, with wages around A$16 to A$25 per hour.
In BC, WorkSafeBC regulates the training of Traffic Control Persons (TCPs), stating that TCPs must be trained in a manner acceptable to the Board. This ensures a high level of training for this high-risk occupation. Currently, the only acceptable course in the province is a two-day session which includes theory and practical components. Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Superintendent Derek Cooke of Langley believes that the RCMP should not perform the function of road traffic control to cater to events in support of for-profit corporations unless the municipal government has coordinated or is in support of the event.
In Nova Scotia training is regulated by the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. There is a one-day course for TCPs and a two-day course for Temporary Workplace Signers. Signers are responsible for the setup of signs, cones etc., and making sure the setup complies with the NS Temporary Workplace Traffic Control Manual
All flag persons – or traffic control persons (TCP) – in Newfoundland and Labrador are now required to complete a TCP training course approved by the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission.
Proper traffic control is critical for the safety of workers, drivers and the general public. Without training by a Commission approved training provider, workers are not permitted to work as a TCP on our province’s roads.
The Commission's Traffic Control Person (TCP) Certification Training Standard establishes criteria for TCP training providers and trainers.
TCP training providers must apply and be approved by the Commission to deliver TCP certification training.
The delivery of training prepares the TCP to perform traffic control in a safe and competent manner by providing them with the knowledge and skills to work safely, consistent with industry and legislative standards.
Traffic Control Person (TCP) Certification Training has an expiry date of 3 years, upon which the course must be completed again for renewal.
Traffic management in the UK is overseen by the Department for Transport but each country within the union has their own transport regulator. The four countries within the UK adhere to the same standards for most traffic control and temporary modifications to traffic and pedestrian control, such as street works and road works (sometimes referred to as the "Red Book"): Safety at Street Works and Road Works – A Code of Practice. Before permission for non-police temporary traffic control (beyond emergency closure) is given, a Traffic Management Plan must be submitted to the local planning office of the affected district.
A road may have a high-visibility jacket wearing traffic controller, a Crossing Guard (colloquially a "lollipop man" or "lollipop woman") who aids children in crossing on their journey to school or a Stop / Go Marshall, (Traffic Guard), or traffic lights at temporary road works. Some multi-regional contractors exist such as Beacon, which also give guards training.
Responsibility is with the Department for Transport. The code of practice for street and road works is issued by the Secretary of State for Transport and Welsh Ministers under Section 65 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (NRSWA) and section 174 of the Highways Act 1980.
Traffic management in Scotland is handled by Traffic Scotland and Transport Scotland. The code of practice for Street and Road works is issued by the Scottish ministers under section 124 of the NRSWA.
Responsibility is with the Department for Regional Development. The code of practice for Street and Road works is issued by the same Department for Regional Development under Article 25 of the Street Works (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 and Article 31 of the Road Traffic Regulation Order (Northern Ireland) 1997.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is a standards setting body which publishes specifications, test protocols and guidelines which are used in highway design and construction throughout the United States. Despite its name, the association represents not only highways but air, rail, water, and public transportation as well
Although the Federal Highway Administration specifies standards and guidelines through the MUTCD which apply to the usage of traffic control equipment, individual state and local agencies often provide additions or slight variations to these standards.
The transportation system in the United States is complex and extensive. Traffic volumes, types of vehicles, driving styles, population density, speed limits, and many other factors vary dramatically from one region to the next. As a result, highway traffic control measures (including type of equipment and implementation), are not strictly consistent. Federal Guidelines do not address certification methods for traffic controllers, flaggers, or other personnel responsible for traffic control. This responsibility is managed on a state or local agency level, and therefore certification requirements are not consistent and are administered locally. Safety standards (irrespective of traffic control) are mandated by OSHA as well as state-level occupational safety departments.
A construction traffic control company operates in the same basic way as any other construction company. Companies submit a bid for a job, the lowest bid is accepted (except in the case of disadvantaged companies), and the labor is provided to the contractor or agency in charge. Typically speaking, flaggers work in groups of 5 to 10 under a TCS, or Traffic Control Supervisor. The TCS is responsible for placing the flaggers correctly, ensuring that they receive the proper breaks and supervision, and placing the advance warning signs (such as Road Work Ahead, One Lane Road Ahead, and Uneven Lanes). Flaggers are the second line of attention (after the warning signs) for drivers. They are the first people in the work zone to deal with opposing traffic.
While construction traffic control in the U.S. used to be a widely unionized profession, it is now dominated by private business and wages are not controlled by the union.
While MUTCD and other standard practices have been instilled in traffic control workers for many years, workers still need to keep up to date on all the new regulations.
Some road traffic control systems have started to optimize multiple traffic modes, including vehicles and pedestrians.
Traffic lights, traffic signals, stoplights or robots are signalling devices positioned at road intersections, pedestrian crossings, and other locations to control flows of traffic.
Road traffic safety refers to the methods and measures used to prevent road users from being killed or seriously injured. Typical road users include pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, vehicle passengers, horse riders, and passengers of on-road public transport.
A variable-message sign, often abbreviated VMS, CMS, or DMS, and in the UK known as a matrix sign, is an electronic traffic sign often used on roadways to give travelers information about special events. Such signs warn of traffic congestion, accidents, incidents such as terrorist attacks, AMBER/Silver/Blue Alerts, roadwork zones, or speed limits on a specific highway segment. In urban areas, VMS are used within parking guidance and information systems to guide drivers to available car parking spaces. They may also ask vehicles to take alternative routes, limit travel speed, warn of duration and location of the incidents, inform of the traffic conditions, or display general public safety messages.
A shoulder, hard shoulder or breakdown lane, is an emergency stopping lane by the verge of a road or motorway, on the right side in countries which drive on the right, and on the left side in countries which drive on the left. Many wider U.S. freeways have shoulders on both sides of each directional carriageway—in the median, as well as at the outer edges of the road, for additional safety. Shoulders are not intended for use by through traffic, although there are exceptions.
London Streets is an arm of Transport for London (TfL) which is responsible for managing identified greatest through-routes in Greater London – 580 kilometres (360 mi) of roads. It was known as TfL Street Management for many years until the start of the 2007 fiscal year.
Roadworks occur when part of the road, or in rare cases, the entire road, has to be occupied for work relating to the road, most often in the case of road surface repairs. In the United States road work could also mean any work conducted in close proximity of travel way (thoroughfare) such as utility work or work on power lines. The general term of road work is known as work zone.
A jughandle is a type of ramp or slip road that changes the way traffic turns left at an at-grade intersection. Instead of a standard left turn being made from the left lane, left-turning traffic uses a ramp on the right side of the road. In a standard forward jughandle or near-side jughandle, the ramp leaves before the intersection, and left-turning traffic turns left off of it rather than the through road. Right turns are also made using the jughandle.
The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways is a document issued by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) to specify the standards by which traffic signs, road surface markings, and signals are designed, installed, and used. These specifications include the shapes, colors, and fonts used in road markings and signs. In the United States, all traffic control devices must legally conform to these standards. The manual is used by state and local agencies as well as private construction firms to ensure that the traffic control devices they use conform to the national standard. While some state agencies have developed their own sets of standards, including their own MUTCDs, these must substantially conform to the federal MUTCD.
Road surface marking is any kind of device or material that is used on a road surface in order to convey official information; they are commonly placed with road marking machines. They can also be applied in other facilities used by vehicles to mark parking spaces or designate areas for other uses.
Bicycle safety is the use of road traffic safety practices to reduce risk associated with cycling. Risk can be defined as the number of incidents occurring for a given amount of cycling. Some of this subject matter is hotly debated: for example, the discussions as to whether bicycle helmets or cyclepaths really improve safety. The merits of obeying the rules of the road including the use of bicycle lighting at night are less controversial.
Traffic management is a key branch within logistics. It concerns the planning, control and purchasing of transport services needed to physically move vehicles and freight.
An advisory speed limit is a speed recommendation by a governing body, used when it may be non-obvious to the driver that the safe speed is below the legal speed. It is a posting which either approximates the Basic Speed Law or rule or is based on a maximum g-force exerted at a specific speed. Advisory speed limits are often set in areas with many pedestrians, such as in city centers and outside schools, and on difficult stretches of roads, such as on tight corners or through roadworks. While travelling above the advisory speed limit is not illegal per se, it may be negligence per se and liability for any collisions that occur as a result of traveling above the limit can be placed partially or entirely on the person exceeding the advisory speed limit.
The normal function of traffic lights requires more than sight control and coordination to ensure that traffic and pedestrians move as smoothly, and safely as possible. A variety of different control systems are used to accomplish this, ranging from simple clockwork mechanisms to sophisticated computerized control and coordination systems that self-adjust to minimize delay to people using the junction.
A move over law is a law which requires motorists to move over and change lanes to give safe clearance to law enforcement officers, firefighters, ambulances, utility workers, and in some cases, tow-truck drivers and disabled vehicles. In the past, Canada and United States have used this term to apply to two different concepts; however, this is beginning to change as Canadian provinces have begun expanding the scope of their move over laws.
The geometric design of roads is the branch of highway engineering concerned with the positioning of the physical elements of the roadway according to standards and constraints. The basic objectives in geometric design are to optimize efficiency and safety while minimizing cost and environmental damage. Geometric design also affects an emerging fifth objective called "livability," which is defined as designing roads to foster broader community goals, including providing access to employment, schools, businesses and residences, accommodate a range of travel modes such as walking, bicycling, transit, and automobiles, and minimizing fuel use, emissions and environmental damage.
Highways England traffic officers perform a functional role within Highways England.
A traffic guard, traffic controller, flagman, or flagger is a person who directs traffic through a construction site or other temporary traffic control zone past an area using gestures, signs or flags. The person directing traffic is responsible for maintaining the safety and efficiency of traffic, as well as the safety of road workers, while allowing construction, accident recovery or other tasks to proceed. Traffic guards are commonly used to control traffic when two way roads are reduced to one lane, and traffic must alternate. Their duties are to direct traffic to safer areas where construction or traffic incidents are taking place. In addition they have to moderate the traffic density to not cause traffic jams. They guide motorists to follow the traffic laws; but may not be able to enforce the law. Most traffic guards are seen as construction workers; but in some nations, they dress or perform as security guards and police officers.
Road traffic control devices are markers, signs and signal devices used to inform, guide and control traffic, including pedestrians, motor vehicle drivers and bicyclists. These devices are usually placed adjacent, over or along the highways, roads, traffic facilities and other public areas that require traffic control.
Cycling infrastructure refers to all infrastructure permissible for use by cyclists, including the network of roads and streets used by motorists, except where cyclists are excluded, along with bikeways from which motor vehicles are excluded – including bike paths, bike lanes, cycle tracks, rail trails and, where permitted, sidewalks. Cycling infrastructure also includes amenities such as bike racks for parking, shelters, service centers and specialized traffic signs and signals. Cycling modal share is strongly associated with the size of local cycling infrastructure.
Terminology related to road transport—the transport of passengers or goods on paved routes between places—is diverse, with variation between dialects of English. There may also be regional differences within a single country, and some terms differ based on the side of the road traffic drives on. This glossary is an alphabetical listing of road transport terms.
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