Scalable Methods for Monitoring Limited Access Roadways using Crowd-Sourced Probe Data

Commercial crowd-sourced probe vehicle data has been gaining traction in recent years as a ubiquitous and scalable resource for identifying traffic congestion on limited access roadways. It is routinely used in real-time by navigation software that displays color coded maps. However, outside of public agency traffic management centers, there are no factual “big picture” reports on traffic conditions. The media tries to fill this gap, but they either provide descriptions of construction locations, or highly subjective opinions. This paper proposes and illustrates a “big picture” characterization of regional and national traffic conditions using archived and real-time data. Average speeds of vehicles on segments of roadway can be retrieved in near real-time at one-minute intervals to produce performance metrics that measure cumulative miles of congestion per route, per entire Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), and on coast-to-coast Interstates using speed profile analysis. Moreover, both real-time and historic archival performance measures can be used for after-action analysis of major traffic events. In this study, the traffic congestion for four MSAs and two Interstates during the week of June 28 to July 6 was used as a case study to illustrate the concepts. The study found most congestion in the Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City metropolitan areas occurred during the PM rush on July 2 before the holiday weekend, with at least 20% of all limited access roadways in each area falling below 40 mph between the hours of 4:30 PM and 5:45 PM local time. On a coast-to-coast level, Interstate 80 showed the heaviest congestion eastbound at 5:15 PM EDT with 140 combined miles of congestion across 11 states. Data reduction and aggregation methods using 15-minute medians outlined in this study allow future systems to implement regional congestion graphs, speed profile charts, and temporal congestion graphs for operational and practical uses. This information can be leveraged by local, regional, and state transportation agencies as well as for media dissemination and outreach to inform the public.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee ABJ30 Standing Committee on Urban Transportation Data and Information Systems.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Authors:
    • Li, Howell
    • Remias, Stephen M
    • Taylor, Aaron
    • Bullock, Darcy M
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2016


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; Maps; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 22p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 95th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01594124
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 16-5802
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jan 12 2016 6:33PM