Picture this: you're cruising down the road, jamming to your favorite tunes on the radio, when you spot what seems like a black hose sprawled across the street. Sometimes, there's a whole group of these hoses lying out there. As you roll over them, you hear this thump-thump sound, and you're on your way to your destination.


But have you ever stopped and wondered, 'What in the world are these things?' They're not just random hoses. Before we find out why they are there, let's ask: Who places them on the road? Usually, in most states, it's done by the Department of Transportation or by contractors at their request.

What exactly are they? They're cost-effective and straightforward methods for collecting essential traffic data for road and traffic planning, including:

  • Estimating traffic for road diversions during planned construction.
  • Assessing average travel speeds in areas with high accident rates.
  • Monitoring traffic flow near signals to ease congestion.
  • Identifying if a side street is being excessively used to bypass main roads.
  • Evaluating pedestrian safety at intersections and considering the need for pedestrian crossings.

What's really cool is that the road tubes and how they function can distinguish between 19 types of vehicles. This covers motorcycles, cars, smaller trucks, various kinds of single-unit trucks like dump trucks and box trucks, and even larger combo trucks like tankers, logging trucks, and those massive 18-wheelers!


So, you might be curious: how does it determine the vehicle type? Well, without diving too deep into the technical stuff, road tubes are set on the road to detect the axles of vehicles. When a vehicle's tire hits the tube, it makes air pulses. The system picks up these pulses to calculate volume and speed or sort out axles. If they use just one road tube, they can collect data on how much traffic there is. But if they use two road tubes, they can learn how fast the vehicles are moving and what kinds of vehicles they are.

So now you know road tubes serve as invaluable tools, offering vital insights into traffic patterns and vehicle types, enabling informed decisions for safer and more efficient roadways.

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