Data Mining and Gap Analysis for Weather Responsive Traffic Management Program
Rakha, Hesham A.
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Weather causes a variety of impacts on the transportation system. An Oak Ridge National Laboratory study estimated the delay experienced by American drivers due to snow, ice, and fog in 1999 at 46 million hours. While severe winter storms, hurricanes, or flooding can result in major stoppages or evacuations of transportation systems and cost millions of dollars, the day-to-day weather events such as rain, fog, snow, and freezing rain can have a serious impact on the mobility and safety of the transportation system users. Despite the documented impacts of adverse weather on transportation, the linkages between inclement weather conditions and traffic flow in existing analysis tools remain tenuous. This is primarily a result of limitations on the data used in research activities. The overall goal of this research was to identify gaps in the data necessary to develop weather responsive traffic management studies. Activities conducted to achieve this included 1) A comprehensive search and documentation of traffic and weather data in the United States and abroad that could be used for WRTM; 2) surveys, phone calls and site visits with organizations that have suitable traffic data on inclement weather; 3) identification of critical gaps in regards to the collection and processing of traffic data on inclement weather conditions; and 4) recommendation of strategies for gathering and processing data that will be used in WRTM studies. The study found that there are a number of useful research efforts underway both domestically and internationally that are yielding useful data for WRTM analysis. In some cases the scopes are limited and confidentiality issues were found in a number of European studies. There is increasing availability of quality traffic and weather data being generated by transportation and public/private weather information sources in the U.S. The analysis conducted for this project found that this data can be helpful in identifying adverse weather impacts on speed and lane usage. The report recommends that FHWA work closely with agencies as they expand their RWIS to assure that weather data is of adequate quality for WRTM analysis. FHWA also should continue to fund specific research and evaluation activities in conjunction with the Integrated Corridor Management Program or other WRTM initiatives.