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Weather Responsive Traffic Management

Research Overview

Adverse weather has long been a source of traffic congestion and cause of accidents on the nation’s highways.  Weather Responsive Traffic Management (WRTM) seeks to manage the impacts of weather on the traveling public.  Recently, new technologies and strategies have emerged which allow traffic operators to improve how they respond to and manage weather events.  The vision of the research is to leverage these advances for the development of comprehensive, proactive and integrated WRTM models.

Research Goals

Managing traffic responsively based on weather is achieved through advisory, control, and treatment strategies.  The development and successful implementation of these strategies are influenced by the following considerations:

  • Traffic and weather data collection and integration
  • Traffic analysis, modeling, and prediction
  • Behavioral and human factors
  • Safety, mobility, and performance evaluation

The research aims to explore and address the challenges in successful development, adoption, and implementation of WRTM strategies, based on the factors listed above and shown in the framework below.

Chart of WRTM Strategies

 

Research Questions

Traffic and weather data collection and integration:

  • What are the types of weather and traffic data needed for WRTM?
  • How should these data be integrated and used by transportation agencies to support effective operational strategies?

Traffic analysis, modeling, and prediction:

  • Is it possible to predict the impact of weather on traffic through analytical models?
  • Can these models be used proactively in real time to make traffic control and advisory decisions?
  • What tools are available to help agencies make those decisions?

Behavioral and human factors:

  • How do drivers and travelers respond to adverse weather conditions?
  • What is the traveler’s preferred content, format and timing of weather information?

Safety, mobility, and performance evaluation:

  • How can the benefits of various WRTM strategies be shown to justify the cost of state adoption and implementation?
  • What are the appropriate and best ways to evaluate the effectiveness and usefulness of the WRTM activities?

Research Approach

Overview

The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Road Weather Management Program (RWMP) is studying, developing, demonstrating, and implementing WRTM solutions.  The objective of this work is to improve traffic flow and operations during inclement weather and minimize delays and crashes.

Key Activities

The following work has been completed by the RWMP:

  • Development and implementation of a self-evaluation and planning guide for integrating and collecting traffic and weather data
  • Macroscopic and microscopic  analyses of weather on traffic speed, density, and capacity
  • Modification and application of Traffic Estimation and Prediction Systems (TrEPS) to account for weather impacts
  • Creation of detailed guidelines for presentation and communication of road weather advisory and control information
  • Development of concepts of operations and evaluation guidance for implementing  WRTM strategies

In continuing research on WRTM issues, the RWMP will pursue the following activities:

  • Improve existing practices and document the benefits of advanced WRTM
  • Continue to support weather data integration and information dissemination at TMC’s and other agencies
  • Expand application of  weather-integrated TrEPS models and weather-sensitive traffic analysis tools Explore and demonstrate from the use of mobile data for WRTM studies

Resources

Research Contacts

Roemer M. Alfelor
Road Weather Management Program
Office of Transportation Operations
Federal Highway Administration
(202) 366-9242
roemer.alfelor@dot.gov

Paul Pisano
Road Weather Management Program
Office of Transportation Operations
Federal Highway Administration
(202) 366-1301
paul.pisano@dot.gov

 




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