Traffic engineers solve problems related to traffic and transportation.
They collect and analyze data, then determine appropriate tools or solutions.
They might investigate traffic sign placement, traffic volume, flow, control,
safety, roadway characteristics and parking usage.
They might also predict traffic growth on public highways given certain
patterns of development. They make recommendations regarding the number of
lanes to build and so on.
Traffic engineers could be asked to review plans of proposed subdivisions
or construction projects to determine the effect on the traffic system. Open
houses or other forums are often used to gather data from the public and determine
public reaction to various solutions.
Traffic professionals must have excellent communication skills. They are
called upon to make reports to mayors, elected officials and the public. They
must be able to discuss complex technical terms in language that the ordinary
person can understand.
"When I hire, I look for three main things: educational credentials, references
and how well the person communicates during the interview," says Jan Voss.
He is president of an institute for transportation engineers.
Many traffic engineers do computer simulations of traffic flow or proposed
Budgeting and cost analyses are important. When making recommendations,
traffic engineers must be able to estimate the cost of the project or suggest
a solution that will be cost-effective.
Some traffic engineers act as expert witnesses in court cases.
Kari Fellows is a traffic engineer. She says a person with a physical disability
would be able to work as a traffic engineer. "Most of what we do involves
computer work or 'head work,'" she says. "If you can manage to visit intersections
and other locations, you will have no problems."
Traffic engineers work for all levels of government. They also work for
private engineering firms and research institutes. Some are self-employed
consultants. Others teach at colleges or universities.
Solve transportation-related problems
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