A traffic engineer is a transportation engineer who studies how people use roads and highways. She uses this data to create transportation systems that serve the most people for the least amount of money. Her job entails analyzing traffic patterns and predicting how they might change.
A traffic engineer must frequently collect data from multiple sources in order to effectively analyze traffic patterns and make sound recommendations. On the most dangerous streets and intersections, she usually studies accident statistics and consults with police and traffic control personnel. Alternatives such as speed bumps, directional signs, and traffic signal changes are frequently discussed as ways to reduce traffic and pedestrian accidents.
She might also meet with traffic signal manufacturers and other engineers to discuss technological advances that could help improve traffic flow. Timing lights in specific areas or at specific times of day can often improve traffic patterns and prevent annoying backups during peak traffic hours. Accident rates can frequently be reduced adjusting traffic lights.
A traffic engineer is also concerned about the physical condition of roads and streets. She inspects existing roads on a regular basis to determine their durability and incorporates her findings into the design of future thoroughfares. If the materials or workmanship are found to be inadequate, the traffic engineer is usually tasked with determining alternative solutions. She is frequently expected to present her ideas and solutions for review to experts in public works and transportation.
The type of district in which a traffic engineer works determines the main focus of her work. If she works for a state or regional agency, the major roads that see the most frequent and heavy traffic are usually her main concerns. One of her primary responsibilities is to ensure the safety and cost-effective maintenance of those highways.
If the engineer works for a city agency, she will almost certainly devote a significant amount of time to researching urban parking and traffic congestion issues. Residents, visitors, and government agencies are likely to approve of her proposed solutions to these issues. City traffic engineers are also concerned about public transportation.
A traffic engineer is frequently required to study traffic patterns and determine how equipment modifications or road alterations could improve traffic conditions using computer-aided design software. She frequently creates visual presentations on traffic patterns and industry advancements for meetings and seminars. In addition to computer skills, a traffic engineer’s success largely depends on her ability to effectively communicate her concerns and solution proposals to a wide range of engineers, administrators and consultants.
This position has a variety of educational requirements. A bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, urban planning, or a related field is required for the majority of jobs. Professionals who want to teach after earning their bachelor’s degree may need to pursue a master’s or doctorate degree. Many engineers are also required their employers to attend seminars and training sessions in order to further their education.