Planning traffic patterns for a growing city or town is one thing. Actually quantifying the results of your efforts is another entirely. As with any system, traffic management architectures require accurate feedback.
Fortunately, traffic light induction loops have been shown to provide reliable data. More than just abstract figures, this information has immediate applications in the real world. Read on to discover how you might leverage induction loops in your evolving transit network.
The Basics: What Are Induction Loop Traffic Systems?
Induction loops are essentially large electromagnetic circuits embedded in roadway surfaces. Without getting too deeply entrenched in the physics, they function according to the principle that states that moving magnetic fields create electric currents in nearby conductors.
Most induction loops are coils of wire powered by circuits that supply currents that oscillate, or change back and forth, at specific frequencies. When cars pass, their metal bodies modulate the current oscillations in various ways. By detecting these deviations from the normal state, loops can tell exactly when vehicles such as cars and trains stop nearby or pass overhead.
Loop circuits are commonly installed as alternatives to pressure plates. Properly designed loop systems have many advantages, like their:
- Freedom from moving parts that might experience mechanical wear,
- Potentially lower material and deployment costs,
- Ability to detect vehicles in close proximity in addition to those positioned directly over the sensor, and
- Ability to be tuned or adjusted electronically.
Induction loop traffic systems are extremely versatile. Typical usage cases include:
Controlling Traffic Lights
When a loop detects vehicles that are idling overhead, it sends an electronic impulse to the signal circuit that tells it to switch a red light to green. This data is often passed to regional traffic monitoring facilities to help managers identify bottlenecks in transit networks.
Loops can also be tuned to respond to different vehicle sizes. In areas frequented by scooters and motorcycles, for instance, you can adjust the technology to serve a broader range of motorists.
Analysing Usage Cases
Many inductive loop traffic systems are found in car parks and similar facilities. Because their response varies based on the metal surface area of a nearby vehicle, loops can be used to create rough estimates of what kinds of vehicles pass by. This information comes in handy for managers who want to learn more about occupancy trends in their facilities.
Parking structures outfitted with automated payment terminals and gates commonly rely on integrated induction technology. In addition to signalling when barriers need to be opened, loop systems can be used to improve tamper detection. Some facilities even link them to parking guidance systems to direct traffic more accurately and heighten security in controlled-access areas.
Using Induction Loop Traffic Systems Productively
While induction loop technology has proven an effective solution for many traffic management challenges, sensors and circuits don’t work without support. The data they generate must be routed and analysed correctly in order to make a lasting difference for stakeholders and motorist users.
Comprehensive traffic management tools that integrate loops with other hardware and intelligent software are vital to using these systems effectively. In most practical applications, loop sensors work best when they’re used in conjunction with dozens of their counterparts. Instead of merely controlling isolated traffic lights or a few problematic intersections, they help direct vehicles across broad regions to realise optimal traffic patterns throughout.
Traffic light induction loops are powerful devices that demand deployment expertise and in-depth understanding. Discover why the right software and technical support make all the difference by visiting Advance Access now.