Ticon experts have analyzed traffic patterns for years and observed how external conditions can significantly impact traffic. Road construction projects, special events, fairs, festivals, and even COVID-19 can cause fluctuations in traffic volumes, increased travel delays, and congestion. Some of these impacts are temporary, while others have a lasting effect, shaping new trends in traffic behavior.
Ignoring external factors in traffic analysis can lead to incorrect estimations and missed opportunities in decision-making. We conducted a case study to examine the impacts of road construction projects, sporting events, and pandemic on traffic demand to emphasize the importance of modern methods of traffic data analysis. By utilizing these techniques, one can accurately detect and account for external factors to guarantee accurate traffic volume prediction, which – because of temporary impact – may drastically differ from actual traffic volume estimation that had been made based on last year observation. This would assure optimal decision-making in course of site selection and/or store operation.
Figure 1. Average Traffic Volume at West View Road, Eastbound direction
We analyzed the impact of road closures on traffic demand by conducting an analysis of minor arterial (Fig. 1). We observed an untypical reduction of traffic volumes starting in May 2022. This finding triggered further investigation, which discovered that the reduction was caused by a new road construction project in the area. Overall, while the closed road saw a 51% decrease in total ADT, there was a 20% increase in traffic volume on the adjacent road (Table 1). This proves that conducting a broader traffic flow analysis covering both primary and secondary roads cannot guarantee true traffic volume estimations at the site of interest, and impact analysis must be an essential part of the site selection process.
Table 1. Difference between expected and actual ADT at West View Road and Shelly Road
We also analyzed the impact of sporting events on traffic. Sporting events, concerts, fairs, and festivals bring large crowds to specific locations, leading to changes in traffic flow, including increased traffic volume and congestion. These changes in traffic patterns may force the diligent c-store operators to seek out special arrangements that may help leveraging such events for revenue increase.
Utilizing modern traffic data analysis techniques with complete time coverage greatly enhances the accuracy of site selection process in new regions, effectively reducing the risks of making mistakes and mitigating the need for information about the area.
In conclusion, we want to stress the importance of considering external factors in traffic analysis to ensure accurate traffic volume estimations for site selection and planning purposes. Therefore, instead of acquiring standard AADT numbers for a particular site of interest, we recommend ordering a broad traffic analysis including data about intra-day, intra-week, and monthly variations of traffic flow, drivers’ behavior, and demographics of local communities.