State of the Practice

Traffic Signal Benchmarking

Each day pedestrians, bicycles, transit, passenger and freight vehicles traverse signalized intersections as they travel local, regional and state roads.  The safety, mobility, and efficiency experienced by users is an outcome of how effectively transportation agencies direct their limited resources towards attainment of goals and objectives. The infrastructure, and systems and technology used to control the right of way at signalized intersections continues to evolve rapidly.  Traffic signal controllers, communications, detection devices, software and systems enable capabilities that transportation organizations must carefully navigate to manage risks and to be fiscally responsible as they strive to improve.

The Traffic Signal Benchmarking and State of the Practice Report explores the current state of traffic signal infrastructure, and systems and technology throughout the United States. Fifty-two departments of transportation manage state highways and regional road networks; while more than 3,000 local agencies such as counties, parishes, cities, townships and villages are responsible for local, collector and arterial networks that make up and connect regional centers, communities and neighborhoods.  The Report will peer into these organizations to benchmark how these organizations are organized, the types of business processes, practices and trends involved in the planning, design, operation and maintenance of traffic signals. The Report will also include an analysis of how effectively agencies are articulating goals and objectives and the level of organizational capability and maturity attained as an outcome of how agencies structure and organize themselves to manage the risk of becoming non-performing.

The 2018, Traffic Signal Benchmarking and Self-Assessment survey evolved from but is distinctly different from prior National Traffic Signal Report Card efforts. Previous traffic signal report cards, completed in 2005, 2007 and 2012; focused primarily on evaluating organizational practices, relative to best practice. The 2018, benchmarking and self-assessment survey leverages the latest thinking in Transportation System Management and Operations (TSMO) and Capability-Maturity Frameworks to assess an organization’s capability and practices relative to its programmatic objectives rather than a composite of best practices.

The results of this self-assessment will provide for limited comparisons to the results of the earlier National Traffic Signal Report Cards at the individual agency and National levels; however, it will allow organizations to identify potential programmatic gaps that are related directly to an organizations ability to attain its most relevant goals rather than to benchmark agencies with different sizes and complexity against one another. The self-assessment is not intended to suggest that all practices must or will be used in all cases. It is designed to serve as a tool to identify areas of strength and areas with opportunity for improvement in traffic signal program management. It is expected that this approach to Traffic Signal Benchmarking and Self-Assessment will support future data collection for the Traffic Signal State of the Practice Report and that it will continue to be released periodically.