A Framework for Recommending Signal Timing Improvements Based on Automatic Vehicle Matching Technologies Dissertation

(2016). A Framework for Recommending Signal Timing Improvements Based on Automatic Vehicle Matching Technologies . 10.25148/etd.FIDC001219

thesis or dissertation chair


  • Chen, Xuanwu


  • Continuously monitoring and automatically identifying existing problems in traffic signal operation is a challenging and time-consuming task. Although data are becoming available due to the adoption of emerging detection technologies, efforts on utilizing the data to diagnose signal control are limited. The current practices of retiming signals are still periodic and based on several days of aggregated turning movement counts. This dissertation developed a framework of automatic signal operation diagnosis with the aim to support decision-making processes by assessing the signal control and identifying the signal retiming needs. The developed framework used a combination of relatively low-cost data from Wi-Fi sensors and historical signal timing records from existing signal controllers.

    The development involved applying multiple data matching and filtering algorithms to allow the estimation of travel times of vehicular traversals. The Travel Time Index (TTI) was then used as a measure to assess the traffic conditions of various movements. Historical signal timing records were also analyzed, and an additional signal-timing measure, referred to as the Max-out Ratio (MR), was proposed to evaluate the frequency in which the green time demand of a phase exceeded its preset value.

    Thresholds for the TTI and MR variables were used as a basis for the diagnosis. This diagnosis first identified the needs for assigning additional green times for individual signal phases. Further assessments were then made to determine whether or not the cycle length for the entire intersection or capacity was sufficient.

    The developed framework was implemented in a real-world signalized intersection and proved to be capable of identifying retiming needs, as well as providing support for the retiming process. Compared to field observations, the diagnosis results were able to reflect the signal operations of most of the movements during various time periods. Moreover, the flexibility of the developed framework allows users to select different thresholds for various movements and times of day, and thus customize the analysis to agency needs.

publication date

  • November 4, 2016


  • ITS
  • Performance Measures
  • Signal Control
  • Signal Diagnosis
  • Traffic Operation
  • Transportation Engineering

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)