Using New Data Sources and Methods to Track Regional Truck Movements

Research Team: Francois Dion (lead) and Anthony Patire

UC Campus(es): UC Berkeley

Problem Statement: Within California, information on truck movement is primarily collected by Weigh-In-Motion (WIM) stations, truck scales, and fixed and mobile Traffic Census stations. While valuable in characterizing truck traffic at specific locations, these sources provide limited information about truck origins, destinations, and routing. Nor is enough information being collected to determine truck movements within urban and suburban areas, and their impacts on local communities. As a result, limited data on truck movements make it difficult to allocate infrastructure funds in line with actual road maintenance needs generated by trucking activities. This data gap may be closed by merging existing data sources with information collected by third-party data aggregators, such as Streetlight, HERE, or INRIX. However, acquiring this private data may entail substantial cost to the state, so there is a pressing need to determine what information may be gained from these sources before Caltrans considers incurring the expense.

Project Description: This project will assess how available probe data (i.e., data generated by monitoring the position of individual vehicles) and other non-traditional data can be used to enhance the tracking of truck movements beyond what is currently possible from the data collected by Caltrans and other state agencies. The project will have three phases. The first phase will evaluate gaps in current data collection capabilities of Caltrans and other state agencies, and assess how the collected data are used to determine truck movements within the California Truck Route network. This phase will involve analyzing data samples from Annual Daily Truck Traffic reports (prepared by Caltrans), WIM stations, Traffic Census stations, and truck scales. The second phase will evaluate alternate data collection opportunities offered by third-party aggregators, with a particular focus on those using fleet tracking technologies to assess truck movements. The research will identify data providers, how trip data are generated by vehicle type, and what end information is typically offered to customers. It will also attempt to identify available probe-based data sets and to collect samples for a selected California test region as a case study. The research team will then analyze the collected information to see how it can be used to assess truck movements within the selected analysis area. The third phase will assess how truck volumes derived from third-party probe data compare to current WIM, Traffic Census and truck scale data, and determine whether non-traditional data can complement, or even partly replace, data being collected by Caltrans and other agencies. This will potentially lead to the development of new methods for using third-party data in conjunction with existing data to improve estimates of truck movements within California.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $80,000

Project Partner(s): Caltrans, Division of Traffic Operations