North Carolina DOT and HERE tackle unique traffic challenges

Lori Castle
New York 40° 42' 52.38" N, -74° 0' 25.632" E

Home to the Smoky Mountains and Outer Banks, with the “triangle” of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill in between, North Carolina’s traffic conditions are as varied as its regions. The convergence of settings and different user types create unique challenges, which call for HERE Real-Time Traffic services.

The solution provides precision mapping and big data analytics that take disparate incoming data — from sensors, devices and connected vehicles on the road — and turns it into valuable traffic insights.

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Unique traffic challenges

In North Carolina, urban areas are concentrated in the middle part of the state, so that’s where you’ll find the most congestion. However, it’s also where you’ll find a savvier driver; those who are used to daily commuting, are open to the latest traffic technology and more inclined to take alternative routes.

Whereas in rural areas, especially in the mountains, alternative routes may not even exist or could be forbidden for trucks. Plus, rural roadways are often used just to travel through, so drivers are less familiar with the location and hesitant to go off course.

To find out more about how the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) will leverage HERE real-time data to heighten driver safety, reduce congestion and manage big construction projects, we spoke with Kelly Wells, mobility program manager, Traffic Systems Operations Unit, NCDOT.

Given the regularity of road events, the data will enable NCDOT to communicate up-to-the-minute reports about current traffic conditions and travel times on dynamic signs on the roadways — information citizens especially value, according to Kelly. Live traffic updates are also provided on the NCDOT.gov website, via the “Ready NC” mobile app and through the 511 phone system.

“On top of normal daily traffic, about once a week we have a big incident on the interstate. Like today, a truck carrying chickens collided with a truck carrying corn and created quite a mess,” says Kelly. “This resulted in a five-hour closure of I-95.”

North Carolina has a total of 1,200 interstate miles, 182 of which are on I-95. Being a part of the I-95 corridor means optimized traffic management is even more critical to keep things moving along the coast. Encompassing 1,917 miles from Maine to Florida, I-95’s daily traffic average is 72,000 vehicles, with peak reaching 300,000 vehicles.

While NCDOT has been using traffic data for a long time, HERE Real-Time Traffic services will raise the department’s capabilities to a new level.

“We used traffic management channel (TMC) codes [a way of subdividing roads in traffic data] for many years, but they can be very big. So in some places, where we know there is typically congestion, we can't see it because the data segments are too large,” says Kelly. “We are really excited to have more granular data from HERE, so we’ll have a much better view of what’s happening in smaller sections of each road.”

NCDOT has also begun to explore applications for HERE visualization tools in its signal systems and traffic operations centers.

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