Portable SmartSensor HD detection stations allow road managers to determine optimal times for lane closures on motorways, reducing congestion in work zones.

Project Team

The original team that created DRUM included Mobile Traffic Solutions (MTS), a leading British transportation provider who provided the sensors and trailers; the United Kingdom’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), who wrote the software used to analyze real-time and historical data; and Costain, one of the UK’s most successful engineering firms who assisted TRL with the software and allowed the system to be tested at one of their project sites. Today, DRUM is available from a number of suppliers; please contact Wavetronix UK for more information.

Project Scope

Portable, trailer-based detection stations designed to monitor traffic around work zones on active motorways. The data collected allows road managers to determine the optimal times for lane closures, reducing traffic congestion through work zones and enabling crews to complete projects more efficiently.

Problems and Challenges

The congestion created by motorway projects can be frustrating for drivers and road workers alike. The increased traffic reduces efficiency and poses a very real risk of injury or death, particularly for workers. Traditional detection methods have proven to be inadequate at work zones; loops, for example, cannot respond to lane shifts or closures and are often damaged by the road works themselves.

Solution

The Dynamic Roadspace Utilisation Manager, or DRUM, consists of portable, solar-powered trailers equipped with SmartSensor HD; the sensors feed real-time traffic data to software that compares it with historical information to identify times when lane closures will cause the least amount of congestion. The system is able to predict optimal road work configurations and allows lane closures to begin earlier and finish later depending on conditions. This reduces traffic congestion through work zones and enables crews to complete projects more efficiently; it is also more cost-effective for contractors and more reliable for motorists.

Benefits

DRUM has significantly reduced congestion through work zones, improving safety conditions and ensuring efficient traffic flows. DRUM can potentially add an extra 20 hours of work per week, improving the pace at which road projects are completed. In some cases, it has allowed workers to complete projects ahead of schedule and under budget: in 2009, a £4.1 million (approximately US$6.46 million) project was completed two weeks ahead of schedule and saved an estimated £250,000 (approximately US$394,000). Since 2007, Costain has successfully used DRUM on several projects. “The trailers can be moved to various locations, giving enhanced snapshots of specific areas,” says Howard Dukes, a traffic management manager at Costain. “This flexibility allows us to work longer on the network than had previously been possible, with more efficiency and less impact on road users.” DRUM has been recognized as an innovation that has changed the way agencies manage construction zones. In 2009, DRUM received the Highway Industry Product of the Year award at Highways Magazine’s annual Excellence Awards ceremony; it was also awarded first prize in an internal competition sponsored by the Highways Agency.

To learn more about SmartSensor HD, click here.