Traffic patterns change constantly in many Oakland County intersections. Intersections that are packed at 4:30 p.m. are empty in the middle of the night. At some intersections, traffic is extremely heavy travelling southbound during the morning rush hour, light during the mid-day, and then heavy north-bound during the evening rush hour. In the past, traffic signals couldn't respond to these real-time traffic conditions.
That's where FAST-TRAC is different. Here's how it works:
Traffic-detection devices, either employing video or buried in the pavement at FAST-TRAC-equipped intersections detect vehicles approaching and continuously monitor traffic flow.
The devices transmit the traffic-flow information to a computer which adjusts the traffic signal timing to match the traffic flow. For example, the green cycle time in one direction can be extended, while the red cycle time is shortened.
Network-wide traffic flow is monitored, and the system balances traffic flow along major corridors. For example, if there's an accident at one intersection, the regional computer will adjust traffic signals area-wide to accommodate the traffic backups caused by the accident.
Intersections are monitored at RCOC's state-of-the-art Traffic Operations Center (TOC). Traffic engineers can monitor specific intersections or the entire county
Traffic counts at intersections can also be collected through FAST-TRAC.
The system also includes diagnostic capabilities. With FAST-TRAC, many problems can be repaired, via computer, from the RCOC TOC. Crews are still needed on-site to address hardware failures.
The system also creates a database of traffic information, such as traffic counts, which, in some cases relieves local units of government from the need to do traffic counts and other studies.