Get 5% off in-app
400k+ download
Open app

What is Traffic Prediction and How Does it Work?

  • Tips & Trips
  • Jeannie Assimos
  • 8 minutes

Spread the love

Written by guest blogger Dmytro Sokhach, an entrepreneur and the 6-Figure Flipper Club member. Founded Admix Global (web agency) that builds websites, makes them profitable, and sells them as business. 


When driving, you probably don’t think about the traffic prediction system that helped you avoid a traffic jam. But it’s there, operating behind the scenes to get you where you need to go. 

The technology behind traffic prediction has been around for decades, and it’s still evolving. Cities and transit agencies use it to help optimize traffic flow, reduce congestion, and increase safety. 

This article will explain traffic prediction and how it works, including the different methods used to predict road conditions and more.

What Is Traffic Prediction?

Traffic prediction is an essential task in the field of transportation planning. It estimates future traffic flows based on historical data and current road conditions. It can be used to improve travel time reliability and reduce its variability, which are important factors influencing people’s mode choices in the transportation system. 

It can also help transportation agencies better manage road conditions by providing a platform for real-time monitoring and adjustment of travel routes and schedules. Traffic prediction has many applications in real-time traffic management systems (RTMS) and smart cities. These can be used for incident detection and management, congestion avoidance, servicing operations planning, and route guidance.

How Does Traffic Prediction Work?

Traffic prediction is a way to predict how much congestion there will be on a given road or highway at a particular time. It’s used by transportation planners, engineers, and government agencies to plan future construction projects. Here are some of the popular methods for traffic prediction:

  • Coupled Method: This is one of the most popular methods for traffic prediction. It uses data from previous years to predict future traffic patterns. This method takes into account factors like population growth and weather conditions. The downside of the coupled method is that it assumes that historical trends will continue into the future;
  • Decoupled Forecasting: This method considers only current conditions like the current weather. This method can be less accurate because it doesn’t take into account past trends, future changes in population growth rates, or other factors that may affect road patterns over time.

Where Does Traffic Prediction Data Come From?

Traffic prediction data comes from various sources, including vehicle counts and road sensors. The data is collected over time to build a historical database that can be used to predict future road gridlock conditions.

Vehicle counts are used to estimate traffic flow in many cities worldwide. In addition, some towns have deployed road sensors that collect data on how many cars pass by each minute. This information is then processed by specialized software to estimate the number of vehicles per hour on that section of highway or city street.

Traffic prediction data can come from these sources:

  • Road Sensors: These devices measure the number of vehicles passing them per minute and transmit this information back to a central system where it’s processed into a usable form. Road sensors are typically placed at intersections and other locations where traffic volumes are high enough for their data to be meaningful;
  • Vehicle Counts: The most common way to measure traffic volume is by counting passing cars over time using counters or other devices such as inductive loops embedded in the road surface, which sense passing vehicles’ tires as they pass over them. This method works well for measuring volume but does not provide information about congestion or speed limits;
  • Historical Data: Historical data is helpful for understanding how traffic patterns change throughout the day. You can view this information in various ways: by the hour, day, or month, by direction of travel, and by day of the week. If you’re trying to predict the patterns on a specific date, you may want to look at historical data for that particular day of the week and time period;
  • Weather Forecasts: Weather forecasts can help predict how bad road congestion might get during storms or other natural disasters. For example, if a hurricane is coming up the coast, people will likely evacuate the area and look for alternate routes out of town. This could cause several hours of delays on major highways and roads;
  • Traffic Cameras: These are used to capture images of road conditions at key intersections or on major roadways. The images are then used to create an animated view of traffic flow, which can be exported as a video file or viewed online;
  • Parking Management Systems: Parking management systems can help cities make more efficient use of their parking resources by understanding when spaces are available and at what price they should be used;
  • Mileage Surveys: The government or private companies carry these out to determine how far people travel in their cars and other vehicles. This information can be used to calculate average speeds for different types of roads and different times of day or night.

Is Traffic Prediction Accurate?

Traffic prediction is estimating future gridlock on a road network. Traffic prediction is typically made by forecasting future traffic volumes based on historical trends and current conditions.

These predictions are often inaccurate because they assume that current conditions will continue in the future. This assumption is often wrong because many factors affect traffic patterns, including new construction and road repairs, paint, and changes in employment or population, special events such as holidays, weather conditions, and even human error-like accidents.

Why Is Traffic Prediction Important?

The forecast determines the number of lanes needed on the road, where they should be located, and how much space should be left between them. It also determines when it makes sense to add another lane, for example, when there’s only one lane in each direction on an interstate road during rush hour.

The predictive analytics tools help in other ways, too, such as:

  • It helps determine whether there will be enough parking spaces at your destination so that you don’t have to spend time circling the block looking for a spot;
  • It tells you when you should leave home, if you want to get somewhere by a specific time or whether you have time to stop at a coffee shop before your doctor’s appointment begins;
  • It lets businesses decide how many people they need working at different times of the day or at least when they can expect their employees to arrive.

What Are The Benefits Of Traffic Prediction?

Traffic prediction can help you reduce the cost of your projects by avoiding “surprise” delays. You can also use traffic predictions to inform your planning and scheduling to minimize costs and maximize benefits. It’s a good tool for:

  • Planning: Traffic predictions can help you plan for events like holidays, major sporting events, or concerts that may affect traffic flow. They can also help you prepare for events during the day, such as maintenance activities, work zones, or road closures;
  • Scheduling: It’ll allow you to schedule your work crews more efficiently. This reduces the time they spend waiting around for equipment to arrive at job sites or in holding areas before they start working on roads. It also helps them avoid sitting idle while waiting for road conditions to improve;
  • Cost Management: Traffic estimates help you manage costs by providing better visibility into what it’ll cost to complete a project and when it’ll be completed. This allows managers and contractors to make better-informed decisions about how much time and money should be allocated for each project step, resulting in lower overall costs due to fewer surprises along the way;
  • Improves Safety: Traffic engineers can predict how many people will be on the road at various times of day, which helps them plan for emergency response. For example, if there’s a large sporting event in town, they can adjust the timing of the road lights to accommodate this volume;
  • Reduces Fuel Consumption: Traffic lights are timed to keep vehicles moving smoothly through intersections. This reduces fuel consumption by eliminating unnecessary braking and accelerating, which wastes energy;
  • Saves You Money: By reducing congestion, traffic prediction can save companies money through improved productivity and reduced travel costs. Road congestion also increases wear-and-tear on vehicles which adds up over time.

Final Thoughts

Traffic prediction is one of those things that’s so important to individuals as drivers because it can literally make or break your day. People want to get where they’re going on time and know that the route will be clear so they can get there safely. 

It uses various factors including weather conditions, time of day, and even gas prices, to help drivers make an informed decision about the route they’ll take before they hit the road.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your commute or are just curious about traffic prediction and planning, this article is right for you.

Traffic prediction is one of those things that’s so important to individuals as drivers because it can literally make or break your day. People want to get where they’re going on time and know that the route will be clear so they can get there safely. 

Related Posts


Press ESC to close