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Overcoming lockdown traffic challenges to deliver transport assessments

22nd Apr 2020

With the media reporting that current traffic volume resembles levels last seen in 1955, how can meaningful Transport Assessments be conducted as a crucial element of any planning submission?

Even if traditional traffic counts could be undertaken at the current time, they would clearly not be accepted by the authorities. However, at Hydrock we’re making use of a number of valid alternatives to assess and understand the traffic implications associated with a proposed development. Yes, it’s important to cross-check these to ensure they offer a comprehensive assessment, but they are all valid and potentially suggest the industry has been overly reliant on outmoded forms of traffic counts for too long.

In a ‘lockdown’ world with minimal traffic, we can turn to:

  • Recent, ‘historic’ traffic data – publicly available from recent, similar planning submissions, or available online for purchase
  • Department for Transport data
  • 24-7 count data from Highways England
  • The simple use of speed limits to specify visibility requirements in the design of roads and highways in many counties
  • Google traffic analytics
  • Synthesised data
  • Traffic models held by a range of authorities and private practices

With other avenues open to us, the current situation is casting a shadow over the long-term viability of some previous methods of capturing traffic data. We have so much technology and data available to us, and the current crisis has accelerated our own ongoing review of technological solutions. Now is the time to fully embrace what is available to us from mobile technology and to maximise the potential of new sources including Google.

Road Safety Audits relaxed

An important footnote is that Government guidance has currently been relaxed with respect to Road Safety Audits. At the present time the audit can either be conducted remotely, using online mapping or BIM information, or, if safe and required, one person can attend a site, capture the detail on a camera phone and share and report on it from this.