Cameras aren’t just for capturing moments or creating entertainment – they can help inform life-saving decisions. Utilizing cameras equipped with high-tech features, such as drone flight or GPS data, help safety professionals capture reliable data efficiently. The B&N team has used the following types of cameras to capture traffic footage that makes field visits more thorough and effective to help save lives.
Drones have become popular for commercial and personal use to get an aerial perspective. These cameras can fly remotely from one location to another or hover mid-air for an extended period. These unique views help safety teams get a complete picture of a corridor, tracing the area around an intersection to see how far back a queue goes and how the traffic progresses throughout the corridor.
The B&N safety team has utilized drones on several projects. For the Hilliard Triangle roundabouts in Hilliard, Ohio, a drone recorded the area for an hour so that our engineers could evaluate traffic behaviors through the roundabout, such as yielding to pedestrians and speed.
For a study surrounding Henderson Road and State Route 315 in Columbus, Ohio, our team utilized a drone to observe congestion in the intersection leading to the interchange, surrounding roads and intersections. This footage indicated that there was poor traffic progression throughout the corridor. The drone helped capture a complete picture of the corridor efficiently and cost-effectively; without it, our team would have needed a field representative at each intersection and one to move along the corridor to track these traffic patterns.
Stationary Traffic-Count Camera
Stationary cameras are affixed to a pole and boast a long battery life, allowing it to record hours of footage. The length of time recorded provides more data to inform the safety team, including traffic counts, near-misses and other vehicle, bike and pedestrian behaviors.
For a crosswalk study project in downtown Columbus, Ohio, a stationary camera was used to collect 12 hours of pedestrian footage. We observed behaviors unique to those unsignalized locations where pedestrians are required to cross multiple lanes of traffic. This recording demonstrated another benefit of the stationary camera: it goes unnoticed. The mere presence of a person nearby causes others to behave differently than they usually would and skews the data.
The GPS-enabled camera records the view through the windshield. As we drive, the camera plots the route on a map along with other data: coordinates, speed, elevation, grade, distance and direction. This data creates a profile of the roadway and can export into other mapping programs, like Google Maps.
This data is helpful for long corridors with uniform scenery and allows us to pinpoint our location at any given moment while reviewing the footage. We used it to record 260 miles of corridors in West Virginia. Once we returned to the office, additional engineering staff analyzed the footage and observed the road, guardrail and signing conditions to suggest optimal safety improvements.
The camera technology is not a replacement for field visits, but a tool to make field visits more efficient, effective and reliable. We can fast forward through times of inaction or rewind to recount or better observe actions in an area. Additionally, we can show footage to others in the office who may not have been able to go on the field visit and get a new perspective and deliver the best result.
Video is also more effective for illustrating safety problems in an area, and we have used it to justify safety improvements and their costs to stakeholders. As Dr. James McQuivey said, “If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a video has to be worth at least 1.8 million words.”
Contact Kendra Schenk, PE, PTOE, RSP2I to learn more about B&N’s system safety program.