Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE) PDF Download

 Traffic Engineering

 Traffic engineering is that branch of engineering which deals with the improvement of traffic performance of road network and terminals. This is achieved by systematic traffic studies, scientific analysis and engineering applications.

1. Road User Characteristics
(a) Physical Characteristics 

  • Vision, hearing, strength and the general reaction to traffic situations. 
  • The temporary physical characteristis of the road users affecting their efficiency are fatigue, alcohol or durgs and illness. All these reduce alertness and increase the reaction time and also affect the quality of judgement in some situations.

(b) Mental characteristics 

  • Knowledge, skill, intelligence, experience etc. can affect the road user characteristics.

(c) Psychological factors 

  • At tent ives nes s , fear, ang er, s up er st ition, impatience, general attitude towards traffic and regulations

(d) Environmental factors 

  • Traffic stream characteristics, facilities to the traffic, atmospheric conditions and the locality.

2. Vehicular Characteristics (a) Static Characteristics 

  • Static Characteristics of vehicles affecting road design are the dimensions, weight and maximum turning angle.

Maximum dimensions of road vehicles: 

  • Maximum width of vehicles = 2.5 m 
  • Maximum height (a) Single decked vehicle = 3.80 m (b) Double decked vehicle = 4.75 m 
  • Maximum Length (a) Single unit truck with two or more axles = 11.00 m (b) Single unit bus with two or more axles = 12.00 m (c) Semitrailer tractor combinations = 16.00 m (d) Tractor trailer combinations = 18.00 m
  • No combinations is allowed to be of more than two units and no such combinations, laden or unladen is allowed to have overall lenght exceeding 18 m.

Weight of Loaded Vehicles 

  • Maximum weight of loaded vehicle affects the design of pavement thickness and gradients. 
  • Limiting gradients are governed by both the weight and power of the heavy vehicles.

power of Vehicle 

  • The power of the heaviest vehicles and their loaded weights govern the permissble and limiting gradient on roads. 
  • Height of driver seat affacts  the clearance of the overhead structures. 
  • The height of driver seat affects the visibility distance. 
  • The length of vehicles affects the capacity, overtaking distance, and manoeurability of vehicles. 
  • The minimum turning radius depends on the length of wheel base and the features of the steering system and this affects design of sharp curves for the manoeuvre of vehicle at slow speeds.

(b) Dyamic Characteristics 

  • The speed and acceleration depends upon the power of the engine and the resistances to be overcome. 
  • The stability of vehicle and its safe movement on horizontal curves are affected by the witdth of wheel base and the height of centre of gravity. 
  • Braking Test: Breaking test in conducted to measure the skid resistance of pavement surface. 
  • At least two the following three measurement are needed during braking tests in order to deterine the skid resistance of the pavement:
    1. Brakintg distance, L .........................(m)
    2. Inital speed. u..................................(m/s)
    3. Actual dur ation of brake app lication, t(second)


  •  Traffic studies or surveys are carried out to analyze the traffic characteristics. These studies help in deciding the geometric design feature and traffic control for safe and efficient traffic movements.

1. Traffic Volume Study 

  • Traffic volume is the number of vehicles crossing a section of road per unit times at any selected period. 
  • Traffic volume is expressed as vehicles/day and vehicles per hour. 
  • Traffic volume is generally accepted as a true measure of the relative importance of roads and in deciding the priority for improvement and expansion. 
  • This study is usd in planning, traffic operation and control of existing facilities also for planning and designing the new facilities. 
  • This study is used in the analysis of traffic patterns and trends. 
  • Classified volume study is useful in structural design of pavements, in geometric design and in computing roadway capacity.  Turning movement study is used in the design of intersections, in planning signal timings. channelization and other control devices. 
  • Pedestrian traffic volume study is used for planning sidewalks, crosswalks subways and pedestrian singals. 
  • Traffic volume counts may be done by mechanical counters or manually. 
  • Mechanical  counters used- Pneumatic hose, magnetic detector  and radar detectors. 
  • The main advantage of mechanical counter is that it can work throughout the day and night for the desired period.  Disadvantage of the mechanical counter-It is not possible to get the traffic volumes of various classes of traffic in the stream and the details of turning movements. 
  • Manual Counts: The method employs a field team to record traffic volume on the prescribed recored sheets.

(A) Annual average daily traffic (AADT or ADT).
Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE) 
This helps in deciding the relative importance of a route and in phasing the road development program. 

(b) Trend charts 

Showing volume trends over period of years are prepared. 

(c) Variation charts 

  • Showing hourly, daily and seasonal variations 
  • These help in deciding the facilities and regulation needed during peak traffic periods.

(d) Traffic flow maps

(e) Volume flow diagram 

  • At intersections either drawn to a certain scale or indicating traffic volume are prepared. These data are needed for intersection design.

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)

(f) Thirtieth highest hourly volume 

  • Thirtieth highest hourly volume is the hourly volume that will be exceeded only 29 times in a year. 
  • The thirtieth highest hourly volume is taken as the hourly volume for design.

2. Speed Studies  

  • Travel Time: is the the reciprocal of speed and is a simple measure of how all well a road network is operating. 
  • Spot Speed :Is the instantaneous speed of a vehicle at a specified section or location.
  •  Average Speed: is the average of the spot speeds of all vehicles passing a given point on the highway. 
  • Space Mean Speed: represents the average speed of vehicles in a certain road lenght at any time.

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
where, Vs = space mean speed, kmph d = length of road, m. n = number of indicidual vehicle observations t= observed travel time (sec) for ith vehicle to travel distance d, m. 

  • The average travel time of all the vehicles is obtained from the reciprocal of space mean speed. 
  • Time Mean Speed: represents the speed distribution of vehicles at a point on the roadway and it is the average of instantaneous speeds of observed vehicles at the sport. n

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
where, Vt = time-mean speed, kmph Vi = observed intantaneous speed of ith vehicles, kmph n = number of vehicles observed. - Vs<Vt (Under typical speed condition on rural highway) 

  • Running Speed is the average speed maintained by a vehicle over a particular stretch of road, while the vehicle is in motion. 
  • Overall speed or travel speed is the effective speed with which a vehicle traverses a particular route between two terminals; This is obtained by dividing the total distance travelled by the total time taken including all delays and stoppage  enroute.

There ar two types of speed studies carried out, 1. Spot speed study 2. Speed and delay study

2. (a) Spot Speed Study May be useful in any of the following aspects of traffic enginerring:
(a) to use in planning traffic control and in traffic regulations.
(b) to use in geometric design
(c) to use in accident studies
(d) to study the traffic capacity
(e) to decide the speed trends
(f) to compare diverse types of deivers and vehicles under specified conditions 

  • The spot speeds are affected by physical features of the road like pavement width, curve, sight distance, gradient and road side developments. Other factors affecting sport speed are:
    1. environmental conditions.
    2. enforcement
    3. traffic conditions
    4. driver, vehicle and motive of travel.

Spot Speed is obtained by
(i) Enoscope
(ii) Radar speedometer
(iii) Graphic recorder
(iv) Electronic meter
(v) Photo electric meter
(vi) Speed meter
(vii) photographic methods
Do you know?
The radar speed meter method seems to be the most efficient one as it is capable of measuring the sport speeds instantaneously and also record them automatically. But this equipment is costly.

(a) Average speed of vehicles  From the spot speed data of the selected samples, frequency distribution tables are prepared by arranging the data in groups covering various speed ranges and the number of vehicles in such range. The arithmetic mean is taken as the average speed. The table gives the general information of the speeds maintained on the section; and also regarding the speed distribution pattern.
(b) Cumulative speed of vehicles
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  •  A graph is plotted with the averge values of each speed group on the X-axis and the cumulative percent of vehicles travelled at or below the different speed o n the Y-axis.

From this graph 85th percentile speed is that speed at or below which 85% of the vehicles are passing the point on the highway or 15 percent of the vehicles the speed at that spot. 

  • This is known as safe speed limit.

Do you know? 

  • For the purpose of highway geometric design, the 98th percentile speed is taken. 
  • The 15th percentile speed represents the lower speed limit if it is desired to prohibit slow moving vehicles to decrease delay and congestion.

(c) Modal average 

  • A frequency distribution curve of spot speeds is plotted with speed of vehicles of average values of each speed group of vehicles on the x-axis and the percentage of vehicles in that group on the Y-axis. This graph is called the speed distribution curve. This curve will have a definite peak value of travel speed across the section and this speed is denoted as model speed.

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)

2. (b) Speed and Delay Study 

  • The speed and delay studies give the running speeds, overall speeds, fluctuations in speeds and the delay between two stations of a road spaced far apart. 
  • They also give the information such as the amount, location, duration frequency and causes of the delay in the traffic stream. 
  • The studies are utilized in finding the travel time and in benefit cost analysis. 
  • Fixed delay occurs primarily at intersections due to traffic signals and at level crossings. 
  • Op erational delays and caus ed by the interference of traffic movements such as turning vehicles,  parking and unparking vehicles, pedestrians etc, and by internal friction in the traffic  stream due to high traffic volume, insufficient capacity.

Do you know?
The result of the speed and delay studies are useful in detecting the spots of congestion, the causes and in arriving at a suitable remedial measures.
There are various methods of carrying out speed and delay study, namely:

(ii) Floating Car Method or Rading Check Method 

  • A test vehicle is driven over a given course of travel at approximately the average speed of the stream. 
  • In this method, the detailed information is obtained concerning all phases of speed and delay including location, duration and causes of delay.
  • The average journey time

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
all the vehicles in a traffic stream in the direction of flow q is given by y
Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
where, q = flow of vehicles (Volume per min) in one direction of the stream na = average number of vehicles counted in the direction of stream when the test vehicle travels in the opposite direction ny = the average number of vehicles overtaking the test vehicle-the number of vehicles overtaken when the test is in the direction of q. tω = Average journey time, in minute when the test vehicle is traveling with the stream q. t a = Average journey time, in minute when test vehicle is running against the stream q.

(ii) The license plate or vehicle number method 

  • The method does not give important details such as causes of declay and the duration and number of delays within the test section.

(iii) Interview technique

(iv) Elevated observation

(v) Photographic technique

3. Origin and Destination Studies The Origin and Destination (O & D) study is carried out mainly to:

(i) Plan the road network and other facilities for vehicular traffic and

(ii) plan the schedule of different modes of transportation for the trip demand of commuters.

The O & D studies of vehicular traffic determines their number, their origin and destination in each zone under study.
The various applications of O & D studies may be summed up as follows:

(i) to judge the adequacy of existing routes and to use in planning new network of roads.

(ii) to plan transportation system and mass transit facilities in cities including routes and schedules of operation.

(iii) to locate expressway or major routes along the desire lines.

(iv) to establish preferential routes for various categories of vehicle including by pass.

(v) to locate terminals and to plan terminal facilities.

(vi) to locate new bridge as per traffic demand.

(vii) to establish desigh standards for the road, bridges and culverts along the route. 

  • The O & D studies of vehicular traffic determines their number. Their origin and destination in each zone under study.

Do you know?
O and D studies provides the basic data for determining the desired directions of flow or desire lines. 

  • There are a number of methods for collecting the O and D data. Some of the methods are:

(i) Road-Side Interview Method 

  • The data is collected quickly in short duration and the field organization is simple and the team can be trained quickly. 
  • The main drawback of the method is that the vehicles  are stopped for interview and there is delay to the vehicular movement. Also resentment is likely from the road users.

(ii) License Plate Method 

  • This method is quite easy and quick as far as the field work is concerned. The method however involves a lot of office complilations in tracing the trips through a network of stations. 
  • This method is quite advantageous when the area under consideration is small like intersections or a small business centre.

(iii) Return Post Card Method 

  • The method is suitable where the traffic is heavy.

(iv) Tag on Car Method 

  • A pre-coded card is stuck on the vehicle as it enters the area under study. 
  • This method is useful where the traffic is heavy and moves continuously. 
  • The method given only information regarding the points of entry and exit and the time taken to traverse the area.

(v) Home Interview Method 

  • The problem of stopping vehicle and consequent difficulties are avoided altogether. 
  • Additional data including socio-economic and other details may be collected so as to be useful for forecasting traffic and transportaton growth.

(vi) Work Spot Interview Method 

  • The transportation needs of work trips can be planned by collecting the O and D data at work spots like the offices, factories, educational institutions etc. by personal interviews.

Presentation of O and D Data The data are presented in the following forms:

(i) O and D tables 

  • O and D tables are prepared showing number of trips between different zones.

(iii) Desire line 

  • Are straight lines connecting the origin points with destinations. 
  • The width of such desire lines is drawn proportional to number of trips in both directions. 
  • The desire line density map easily enables to decide the actual desire of the road users and thus help to find the necessity of a new road link, a diversion, a by-pass or a new-bridge.

(iii) Pie charts 

  • Diameter of circles are proportional to number of trips.

(iv) Contour Lines 

  • The shape of the contours  would indicate the general traffic need of the area. 

4. Traffic Flow Characteristics and Studies Traffic Manoeuvres

 Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)


Time Headway 

  • The time interval between the passage of successive vehicles moving in the same lane and measured from head to head as they pass a point on the road in known as the time headway.

Space Headway 

  • The distance between successive vehicles moving in the same lane measured from head at any instance is the space headway. 
  • Maximum flow or capacity flow is attained at this speed when the time headway is minimum.

Do you know?
The frequency of demand for lane change will be high when the speed range of vehicles in the trafffic stream is high. The lane change manoeuvres and characteristics would very much depend on the number of lanes and whether it is one-way or two way movement. The merging, diverging, weaving and overtaking operations, all come under lane changes.

 Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE) 

  •  The number of headways per unit time is dependednt  on the rate of traffic flow and is therefore a direct measure of traffic volume. 
  • With increase in speed of traffic stream, the minimum space headway increases whereas the minimum time headway first decreases and after reaching a minimum value at optimum speed on the stream increases.

5. Traffic Capacity Studies Traffic Volume 

  • It is the number of vehicles moving in a specified direction on a given lane or roadway that pass a given point during specified unit of time. 
  • It is expressed as vehicles/hour or vehicles per day.

Traffic Density 

  • It is the number of vehicles occupying a unit length of lane of roadway at a given instant. 
  • It is expressed as vehicles/km 
  • Traffic volume is the product of the traffic density and traffic speed. 
  • q = Ku where, q = traffic volume, vehicles/hour k = traffic density, vehicle/km u = speed of vehicle, kmph. 
  • The highest traffic density will occur when the vehicles are practically at a stand still on a given route and in this case traffic volume will approach zero. also called jam density.

Traffic Capacity 

  • Traffic Capacity is the ability of a roadway to accommodate traffic volume. 
  • It is expressed as vehicles per hour per lane.

Do you know?
Volume represents an actual rate of flow and responds to variations in traffic demand, while capacity indicates a capability or maximum rate of flow with a certain level of service characteristics that can be carried by the roadway.
The capacity of roadway depends on a number of prevailing roadway and traffic conditions.
Traffic volume £ traffic capacity

Basic Capacity 

  • Basic Capacity is the maximum number of vehicles that can pass a given point on a lane or roadway during one hour under the most nearly ideal roadway and traffic conditions which can possibly be attained. Thus basic capacity is the theoretical capacity. 
  • Two roads having the same physical features will have the same basic capacity irrespective of traffic conditions, as they are assumed to be ideal. Thus basic capacity is the theoretical capacity.

Possible Capacity 

  • Possible capacity is the maximum number f vehicles that can pass a given point on a lane or roadway during one hour under prevailing roadway and traffic conditions.

Do you know?
The possible capacity of a road is generally much lower than the basic capacity. In a worst case when the prevailing roadway and traffic conditions are seldom ideal. In a worst case when the prevailing traffic condition is so bad that due to traffic congestion, the traffic may come to a stand still the possible capacity of the road may approach zero. For the purpose of design, neither basic capacity nor possible capacity can be adopted as they represent two extreme cases of roadway and traffic conditions.

Practical Capacity 

  • Practical capacity is the maximum number of vehicle that can pass a given point on a lane or roadway during on hour, without traffic density being so great as to cause unreasonable delay, hazard restriction to the drivers freedom to manoeuvre conditions. 
  • This is also known as design capacity.

Determination of Theoretical Maximum Capacity
Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
where, C = Basic capacity of single lane, vehicle per hours.
V = speed , kmph.
S = average centre to centre spacing of vehicles, = Sg + L
Sg = Minimum space gap = 0.278 Vt,(m)
L = average length of vehicle,
m t = Reaction time, 0.7 sec (Assumed) 

  • The space gap allowed by the driver of a followed vehicle depends on several factors such as
    1. speeds of leading and following vehicles
    2. type and characteristics of the two vehicles
    3. driver characteristics of the following vehicle
    4. level of service
    5. Road geometrics
    6. environmental factors
    7. The proportion of vehicle classes in the stream. 
  • The maximum theoretical capactiy of a traffic lane may therefore be obtained if the minimum time headway Ht is known.

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
where C is  th capacity, vehicles per hour (3600 second), and Ht is the minimum time headway in second.

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)

1. Lane Width 

  • As the lane width decreases, the capacity also decreases.

2. Lateral Clearance 

  • Restricted lateral clearance affects driving comfort, increases accident rates and reduces capacity.

Do you know?
A minimum clearance of 1.85 m from the pavement edge to the obstruction is considered desirable.

3. Width of Shoulders 

  • Narrow shoulders reduce the effective width of traffic lanes, thus reduce capacity.

4. Commercial Vehicles 

5. Alignment  Restrictions to sight distance requirements cause reduction in capacity.

6. Presence of Intersection at Grade


  •  It is common practice to consider the passenger car as the standand vehicle unit to convert the other vehicle classes and this unit is called passenger  car unit or PCU. 
  • The PCU may be considered as a measure of the relative space requirement of a vehicle class compared to that of a passenger car under a specified set of roadway, traffic and other conditions. 
  • The PCU value of a vehicle class may be considered the ratio of the capacity of a  roadway when there are passenger cars only to the capacity of the same roadway when there are passenger cars only to the capacity of the same roadway when there are vehicles of that class only.

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)

Factors Affecting PCU Values 
1. Vehicles characteristics
2. Transverse and longitudinal gaps
3. Traffic stream characteristics
4. Roadway characteristics
5. Regulation and control of traffic
6. Environment and climatic conditions

Based on the above factors, three sets of PCU values have been worked out for.
1. Urban roads, mid block sections
2. Signalized intersections and
3. kerb parking 

  • The Indian Roads congress has given set of tentative PCU values or Eqivalency factors foctors for rural road:
    Tentative Equivalency Factors Suggested by the IRC
SLVehicle classEquivalency
1Passenger car, tempo,
autorickshaw, agricultural tractor
2Bus, truck, agricultural tractor-tailer unit3.0
3Motor cycle, scooter and pedal cycle0.5
4Cycle rickshaw1.5
5Horse drawn vehicles4.0
6Small bullock cart and hand cart6.0
7Large bullock cart8.0

Practical Capacity values 

  • The practical capacity values suggested by the IRC for the purpose of design of different types of roads in rural arease are given in table
Type of roadCapacity PCU
per day (both
Single lane with 3.75m wide
carriageway and normal earthen
Single lane road with 3.75m wide
carriageway and 1.0m wide hard
Roads with intermediates lanes
of width 5.5m and normal earthern
Two lane roads with 7.0m wide
carriageway and earthen shoulders
Four lanes divided highway
(depending) on traffic, access
control, etc)

Capacity of different types of roads in rural areas.


  •  Parking studies are useful to evaluate the facilities available 
  • Various aspects to be investigated during parking studies are:

1. Parking Demand

1. The parking demand may be evaluated by different methods. One of the methods is by making cordon counts of the selected area and recording accumulation of vehicles during the peak hours by subtracting the outgoing traffic from the traffic volume entering the cordoned area.

2. One other method is by counting the number of vehicles parked in the area under study during different periods of the day; this method is useful when the parking demand is less than the space available for parking.

3. Interview Technique-useful when parking demand is high.

2. Parking Characteristics 

3. Parking Space inventory


The various objectives of the accident studies may be listed as:
1. to study  the causes of accidents and to suggest corrective treatment at potential location.
2. to evaluate existing designs.
3. to support proposed designs.
4. to carry out before and after studies and to demonstrate the improvement in the problem.
5. to given economic suggested by the traffic engineer.

There are four basic elements in a traffic accident:
1. the road users
2. the vehicles
3. the road and its condition and
4. environmental factors-traffic, weather etc.

(a) Location files 

  • These are useful to keep a check on the location of accident and to identify points of high accident incidence.

(b) Spot maps 

  • Accident location spot maps show accident by spots, pins or symbols on the map.

(c) Condition diagram 

  • Condition diagram is a drawing to scale showing all important physical conditions of an accident location to be studied. 
  • The important features are roadway limits, kerb lines, bridges, culverts, trees and all details of roadway conditions, obstruction to vision, signs, signals etc.

(d) Collision diagram 

  • These are diagrams showing the approximate path of  vehicles and pedestrians involved in the accidents. 
  • Collision diagrams are most useful to compare the accident pattern before and after the remedial measures have taken.

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)

Measures for the Reduction in Accident Rates 
The various measurers to decrease the accident rates may be divided into three groups:
1. Engineering
2. Enforcement
3. Education, 

These are termed as “3 – Es”.

Volume and Density 

  • When  the speed the traffic flow decreases and becomes zero, the density attains the maximum value whereas volume becomes zero. 
  • For increasing values of speeds, the density decreases, whereas the volume increases upto a certain limit. 
  • At high speed, the valume starts decreasing and density keeps on further reducing. Eventually when volume approaches zone at very high speeds. the density also approaches zero. Thus there is a maximum flow in road corresponding to some optimum values of speed and density.

Capacity flow or Maximum Flow
Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
where, Vst = free mean speed i.e. maximum speed at zero density Ki = jam density i.e. maximum density at zero speed.
Maximum flow qmax occurs when the speed is

 Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)

Chapter 3 (Part 2) 


Traffic Regulations Traffic regulations and laws cover the following four phases: 1. Driver controls: include driving licenses, driver tests,  financial responsibility and civil liabilty. 2. Vehicle controls: Vehicle registration, requirements of vehicles, equipment and accessories, maximum dimensions and weight and inspection of vehicles. 3. Flow Regulations: directions, turning and overtaking etc., signs and signals 4. General controls: to report accidents and recording and disposing traffic violation cases 

Total potential confilicts points on 2 lane roads: (Right Angled intersection)

RegulationPotential Conflict point
One Road one-way2416164
other 2-way1177-
Both Road-way644-
  • The potential conflicts an two-way operation and varying number of lanes are given in the following Table.
Number of lanesNumber of potential conflicts
Both Roads -Two way
Road ARoad B 

The most common devices are the following: 1. Traffic signs 2. Signals 3. Markings 4. Islands

1. Traffic Signs 

  • On the kerb roads, the edge of the sign adjacent to the road should not be less than 0.6 m away from the edge of the kerb.  On roads without kerbs, the nearest edge may be 2.0 m to 3.0 m from the edge of the carriageway. 
  • The signs should be mounted on sign posts painted alternately with 25 cm black and white bands.

Traffic signs have been divided into 3 categories: (a) Regulatory signs (b) Warning signs and (c) Informatory signs

(a) Regulartory Sings 

  • Regulatory or mandatory signs are meant to inform the road users of certain laws, regulations and prohibitions; the violation of these signs is a legal offence. 
  • The regulatory signs are classified under the following sub heads:

(i) Stop and Give Way Signs 

  • The stop singn is intended to stop the vehicles on a roadway. 
  • It is octagonal in shape and red in colour with a white border. 
  • The give way sign is used to control the vehicles on a road so as  to assign right of way to raffic on other roadways. 
  • This sign is Triangular in shape with the apex downwards and white in colour with a red border.

(ii) Prohibitory Signs 

  • are meant to prohibit certain traffic movements, use of horns or entry of cerain vehicle class. 
  • Circular in shape and white in colour with a red border.


(iii) No parking and No stopping signs 

  • is meant to prohibit parking of vehicles at that place. 
  • circular in shape with a blue background a red border and an oblique red at an angle of 45° 
  • No stopping/standing is meant to prohibit stoppping of vehicles at that place.
  • Circular in shape with Blue background,Red borrder and two oblique red bars at 45° and right angle to each other.

(iv) Speed limit and vehicle control signs 

  • Speed limit signs are meant to restrict the speed of all or certain classes of vehicles on a particular stretch of a road. 
  • These signs are circular in shape and white background, red border and black numerals indicating the speed limit. 
  • The vehicle control signs are circular in shape, red border and balck symbols instead of numerals.

(v) Restriction Ends Sign 

  • indicates the point at which all prohibitions notified prohibitory sings for moving vehicles ceases to apply 
  • Circluar in shape with white back ground and broad diagonal black at 45°

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)

(vi) Compulsory Direction Control Signs 

  • Indicate by arrows, the appropriate directions in which the vehicles are obliged to proceed. 
  • Circular in shape with a blue background and white direction arrows.

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)

(b) Warning Signs 

  • Warning or cautionary signs are used to warn the road users of certain hazardous conditions that exist on or adjacent to the roadway. 
  • The warning signs are in the shape of equilateral triangle with its apex pointing  upwards. 
  • They have a white back ground, red border and black symbols. 
  • These signs are to be located at sufficient distance in advance of the hazard warned against; these distances are: 
Class of RoadsDistance
NH/SH120 m
MDR90 m
ODR60 m
VR40 m
Urban Roads 

 Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)

(c) Informatory Signs 

  • These signs are used guide the road users along routes, inform them of destination and distance and provide with information to make travel easier, safe and pleasant. 
  • The information signs are grouped under the following subheads:

(i) Direction and place Identification Signs 

  • are rectangular with white background , black border and black arrows and letters. 
  • include Destination signs, Direction signs, Route marker and Place identification signs.

(ii) The facility Information signs 

  • Rectangular in shape with blue bakground and white/black letters symbols. 
  • Include Public Telephone, Petrol pump, Hostital, first aid post etc.

(iii) Parking signs 

  • Are set up parallel to the road using square sign board with blue background and white coloured letter 'P'.

(iv) Flood Gauge Sign 

  • Should be installed at all cause ways.

2. Traffic Signals Advantages Properly designed traffic singnals have the following uses.

1. They provide orderly movement of traffic handling capacity of most of the intersections at grade.

2. They reduce certain types of accidents, notably the right angled collisions.

3. When the signal system is properly coordinated, there  is a reasonable speed along the major road traffic.

4. Signals provide a chance to crossing traffic of minor road to cross the path of continuous flow of traffic stream at reasonable intervals of time.

5. Automatic traffic signal may work out tobe economical when compared to manual control.


1. The real-end collisions may increase.

2. Improper design and location of signals may lead to violations of the control system.

3. Failure of the signal due to electric power failure of any other defect may cause confusion to the road users.

Important terms related to traffic signals 

Cycle: The period of time required for one complete sequence of signal indications is called cycle. 

Phase: A part of the signal cycle allocated to a traffic movement or a combination of traffic movements is called phase. 

Interval: Any of the division of the signal cycle during which signal indications do not change is called the interval.
Type of Traffic Signals: The signals are classified  into the following types:

(i) Trafffic control  signal (a) Fixed-time signal (b) Manually operated signal (c) Traffic actuated (automatic) singnal

(ii) Pedestrian signal

(iii) Special Traffic Signal

(i) Traffic Control Signals 

  • have three coloured light glows facing each direction of traffic flow. 
  • the red light is meant for “stop”, the green light indicates ‘Go’ and the amber light allows the clearance time for the vehicles which enter the intersection area by the end of green time, to clear off.

Fixed time Signal 

  • The tim ing of ea ch p has e of the c ycle is predetermined based on the traffic studies. 
  • The main drawback of the signal is that some times the traffic flow on one road may be almost nil and traffic on the cross road may be quite heavy yet as the singal operates with fixed timings, the traffic in the heavy stream will have to stop at red phase.

 Traffic Actuated Signals 

  • are those in which the timings of the phase and cycle are changed according to traffic demand.

Simultaneous System 

  • All the signals show the same indication at the same time. 
  • As the division of cycle is also the same at all intersections, this system does not work satisfactorily.

Alternate System 

  • Alternate group of signals show opposite indications in a route at the same time. 
  • More satisfactory than simultaneous system

Simple Progressive Systems 

  • A time schedule is made to permit as nearly as possible  a continuous operation of groups of vehicles along the main road at a reasonable speed.

Flexible Progressive System 

  • In this system it is possible to automatically vary the length of cycle, cycle division and the time schedule at each signalized intersection with the help of a computer.

Do you know?
This is the most efficient system of all the four types described above.
Flashing Beacons 

  • are meant ot warn the traffic. 
  • At flashing red signals, the drivers of vehicles shall stop before entering the nearest cross walk at an intersection or at a stop line. 
  • When marked flashing yellow signals are caution signals meant to signify that drivers may proceed with caution

Design of Isolated Fixed Time Signal

1. Stop time or red phase R, of a signal is the sum of go and clearance intervals or green and amber phases for the cross flow i.e.

G2 + A2 at a two phase signal.
2. Towards the end of red phase, there may be a short duration when the amber lights are put on along with red light signal in order to indicate 'get set' to go.
This phase is the last part of red phase itself, and may be called ‘red-amber’ or ‘initial amber’.
Do you know?
The vehicles are not supposed to cross the stopline during the red amber period.

3. Clearance  time is provided just after the green phase before the red phase, to fulfil two requirements.

(a) Stopping time for approaching vehicle to stop at stopline after the signal changes from green to amber.

(b) Clea rance time for app roaching vehicles. Usually 2 to 4 seconds would be suitable for the amber phase.

4. Go time greentime is decided based on the approach volume during peak hour.

IRC Guidelines

1. The pedestrian green time required are calculated based on walking speed of 12 m/sec. and initial walking time of 7.0 sec.

2. The cycle time is calculated after allowing amber time of 2 sec. each.

3. The minimum green time required for vehicular traffic on any of the approaches is limited to 16 secs.

Road Marking 

  • Are made of lines,  patterns, words, symbols or reflectors on the pavement, kerb side of islands or on the fixed objects within or near the roadway. 
  • The various types of markings may be classified as,
    (a) Pavement Markings
    (b) Kerb Markings
    (c) Object markings
    (d) Reflector unit markings

Pavement Markings 

  • may be generally of white  paint. 
  • yellow colour markings are used to indicate parking restrictions and for the continuous centre and barrier line markings. 
  • The width of pedestrain crossing may be between 2.0 and 4.0 depending upon local requirements.

Kerb Markings 

  • The markings on the kerb are made with alternate black and white line.

Reflector Unit Markings 

  • Reflector markers are used as hazard markers and guide markers for safe driving during night. 
  • Hazard makers reflecting yellow light should be visible from distance of about 150 m.

Road Delineators 

  • Are devices to outline the roadway to provide visual assistance to drivers about the alignment of road ahead, especially at night.

Three types of delineators that may be used are:

1. Roadway indicators
2. Hazard Markers
3. Object Markers 

  • Roadway indicators are in the form of guide posts 0.08 to 1.0 m high and painted by black and white strips with or without reflectors and are intended to delineate the edges of the roadway. 
  • Hazard markers are 12 m high plates on posts, either with three red reflectors or markers with black and yellow strips at 45° towards the side of the obstruction. 
  • Object markers ar circular red reflectors arranged on triangualr or rectangular panels.

Traffic Islands 

  • Traffic islands are raised areas constructed within the roadway to establish physical channels through which the vehicular traffic may be guided. 
  • Traffic islands may be classified based on the function as:

1. Divisional islands
2. Channelizing islands
3. pedestrian loading islands
4. Rotary
1. Divisional  islands 

  • Are intended to separate opposing flow of traffic on a highway with four or more lanes. 
  • By dividing the highway into oneway roadways, the head-on collisions are eliminated and other accidents are also reduced.

2. Channelizing islands  

  • Are used to guide the traffic into proper channel through the intersection area.

3. Pedestrain loading islands 

  • Are provided at regular bus stops and similar places for the protection of passengers. 
  • A pedestrain island at or near a cross walk to aid and protect pedestrain crossing the carriageway may be termed as pedestrain refuse islands.

4. Rotary 

  • Is the large central island of a rotary intersection; this islands is much larger than the central island of channelized intersection. 
  • The crossing manoeuvre is converted to wearing by providing sufficient wearing length.

 Intersections may be classified into two broad groups: 1. Intersection at grade 2. Grade separated intersection

1. Intersection at Grade 

  • These include all roads which meet at more or less the same level. 
  • The traffic manoeuvres like merging. diverging and crossing are involved in the intersection at grade. 
  • These intersections may be further classified as unchannelized, channelized and rotary intersections.

The basic requirements of intersection at grade are:

1. At the intersection the area of conflict should be as small as possible.
2. The relative speed and particularly the angle of approach of vehicle should be small.
3. Adequate approaching should be available for vehicles approaching the intersection.
4. Sudden change of path should be avoided.


(a) Unchannelized intersections 

  • The intersection area is paved and there is absolutely no restriction to vehicles to use any part of intersection area. 
  • When no additional pavement width for turning movement is provided, it is called plain intersection.

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)

  • When the pavement is widened at the intersection area, by a traffic lane or more, it is known as flared intersection. 
  • The conflict area is quite large as path of turning vehicles are not restricted or controlled. One of the crossing vehicles will have to stop while the other proceeds.
    Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
    Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)

(b) Channelized intersections 

  • Channeliz ed inters ection is achieved introducing islands into the intersection area, thus reducing the total conflict area available in the unchannelized intersection.

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)

(c) Rotary intersection 

  • It is an enlarged road intersection where all converging vehicles are forced to move round a large central island in one direction (clockwise direction) before they can weave out of traffic flow into their respective directions.

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
Design Factors of Rotary

1. Design Speed 40 kmph for rotaries in rural areas 30 kmph for rotaries in urban areas
2. Shape of Central Island

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)

  •  The shape of central island depends on the number and the layout of the intersecting roads. 
  • When two equally important roads cross at roughly right angles i.e., all the four radiating roads placed symmetrically, a circular shape is suitable.
  • The island may be often elongated to accomodate in the layout four or more intersecting roads; and to allow for greater traffic flow along the direction of elongation. 
  • Too much elongation and tangent shape are not desirable as there is a tendency of traffic in this direction to move much faster. 
  • Turbine shape forces reduction in speeds of vehicle entering the rotary and enables speeding up of vehicles going out; however at night, the head light glare is a limitation of the design.

3. Radius of Rotary Roadway

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
Where, V = design speed of vehicle, kmph
f = coefficient of friction, may be taken as 0.43 and 0.47 for the speeds 40 and 30 kmph respectively, after allowing a factor of safety of 1.5.

  • The recommended minimum radii of central island are 1.33 times the radius of entry curves. 
  • The IRC has suggested the radius of entry curve to be 20 to 35 m and 15 to 25 m for rotary design speeds of 40 and 30 kmph.

4. Wearing angle and weaving distance 

  • The angle between the path of a vehicle entering the rotary and that of another vehicle leaving the rotary at adjacent road, thus crossing the path of the former is termed as the wearing angle. 
  • The wearing operation including merging and diverging can take place between the two channelizing islands of the adjacenet intersecting legs and this length of the rotatory roadway is known as weaving length. 
  • For smooth flow of traffic the weaving angle should be small put not less than 15° as the diameter of central island required will be too large. 
  • The weaving length should be at least four times the width of weaving section.

 The recommended value of weaving length are 45 to 90 m for 40 kmph and 30 to 60 m for 30 kmph design speeds.

5. Width and Radius of Carriageway at entry and exit 

  • The minimum width of carriageway at the entrance and exit should be 5.0 m. 
  • Vehicles leaving the rotary would accelerate to the speed of the radiating roads and hence the exit curves should be of a larger radius than entry curves; one and a half to two times radius of entry is considered reasonable. 
  • The pavement width at entrance curve will be higher than at exit curve as the radius of the former is less than the latter.

6. Other design standards 

  • The shape and size of channelizing island is governed by the radius of the rotary the radii of the entrance and exit curves and the angles and layout of the radial road and rotary. 
  • The design of the curve should be made assuming no super elevation. 
  • The minimum sight distance should be 45 and 30 m for design speeds of 40 and 30 kmph respectively.


  •  The lowest limit of traffic volume when a traffic rotary is justified is about 500 vehicles per hour on all intersecting roads put together and the maximum limit beyond which rotary may not efficiency function is about 5000 vehicles per hour. 
  • IRC suggests that the maximum volume of traffic that a rotary can efficiency handle is 3000 vehicles per hour entering from all the legs of the intersection. 
  • Traffic rotatery may be provided where the intersecting motor traffic is about 50 percent or more of the total traffic on all intersecting roads or where the fast traffic turning right is as least as 30 percent of the total traffic.

1. Crossing manoeuvre is converted into weaving or merging and diverging operations.
2. The variable cost of operation of automobile is less at a traffic rotary than at a signalized intersection where the vehicles have to stop and proceed.
3. The possible number of accidents and the severity of accidents are quite low because of low relative speed.

4. Rotaries can be constructed with advantage when the number of intersecting roads is between four and seven.
5. The capacity of the rotary intersection is the highest of all other intersections at grade.


1. Rotary requires comparatively a large area of land and so where space is limited and costly as in built up areas, the total cost may be very high.

2. Where pedestrian traffic is large as in urban areas the rotary by itself cannot control the traffic and hence has to be supplemented by traffic police.

3. Where the angle of intersection of two roads is too acute or when there are more than seven intersecting roads, rotatery are unsuitable.


  • The intersecting roads are separated by difference in level, thus eliminating the crossing manoeuvres. 
  • The grade separation may be either by an overbridge or an under pass. 
  • Transfer of route at the grade separation is provided by interchange facilities consisting of ramps. 
  • Interchange ramps may be classified as direct, semidirect or indirect. 
  • The direct interchange ramp involve diverging to right side and merging from the right. 
  • S emidir ect interchang e ramp allow s diverging to left but merging is from right side.
  • In the indirect method of interchange ramp, a simple diverging to the left and a merging from the left side are involved which are simpler and less hazardous than diverging to the right and merging from right; but the distance to be traversed in indirect interchange is more.

Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)

Advantages of Grade Separation

1. Maximum facility is given to the crossing traffic.
As the roads are separate, this avoids necessity of stopping and avoids accidents while crossing.

2. There is increased safety for turning traffic and by indirect interchange ramp even right turn movement is made quite easy and safe by converting into diverging to left and merging from left.

3. The capacity of the grade operated intersection can practically approach that of the two cross roads.

4. It is possible to adopt grade separation for all likely angles and layout of intersecting roads.


1. It is very costly to provide complete grade separation and interchange facilities.

2. Where there is a limited right of way like built up or urban area or where the topography is not favorable, construction of grade separation is costly, difficult and undesirable.

3. In flat or plain terrain, grade separation may introduce undesirable crests and sags in the vertical alignment.

Grade Separation Structures 

  • The grade separated intersections are classified as over-pass and under pass. 
  • When the major highway is taken above by raising its profile above the general ground level by embankment and an overbridge across another highway, it is called an over-pass.
  • If the highway is taken by depressing it below the ground level to cross another road by means of an under-bridge, it is known as under-pass. 
  • The choice of the over-pass or under-pass depends on topography, vertical alignment, drainage, economy, aesthetic features and preferential aspects for one of the highways.

Advantages of Over-pass

1. Troublesome drainage problems may be reduced by taking the major highway above the cross road.

2. For the same type of structure when the wider road is taken above the span of the bridge being small, the cost of the bridge structure will be less.

3. In an over-pass of major highway, there is an aesthetic preference to the main through traffic and less feeling of restriction or confinement when compared with the under-pass.

4. Fu tur e expansion or lat eral expansion or construction of separate bridge structure for divided highway is possible.

Disadvantages of Over-pass 

1. In rolling terrain if the major road is to be taken above, the vertical profile will also have rolling grade line.

2. If the major highway is to be taken over by constructing high embankments and by providing steep gradients, the increased grade resistance may cause speed reduction on heavy vehicles.
Here will be restrictions to sight distance unless long vertical curves are provided.

Advantages of an Underpass 

1. The is a warning to traffic in advance due to the presence of an under pass which can be seen from distance.

2. When the major highway is taken below, it is advantageous to the turning traffice because the traffic from the cross road can accelerate while descending the ramp to the major highway and the traffic from the major highway can deacelerate while ascending the ramp to the cross roads.
3. The under-pass may be of advantage when the main highway is taken along the existing grade without alteration of its vertical alignment and cross road is depressed and taken underneath.

Disadvantage of an Underpass

1. There may be troublesome drainage problems at the under pass, especially when the ground water level rises high during rainy season.

2. At under-pass the over head structure may restrict the vertical sight distance even at the valley curve near the under-pass.

3. There is a feeling of restriction to the traffic at the sides while passing along the under-pass and unless the clearance is sufficiently large, this may affect the capacity at the intersection.

4. There is no possibility of stage construction for the bridge structure at the under-pass.

Lighting Layouts

1. Single side lighting is economical to install; but is suitable only for narrow roads. For wider roads with 3 or more laws the staggered system or the central lighting system may be adopted.

2. Lights are installed at closer spacings on curvces than on straights. The lights are located on the outer side of the curves to provide better visibility.

3. At summit curve lights should be installed at closer intervals near the summit.

4. For simple intersections, in urban area, the illumination should be at least equal to the sum of illumination values for two roads which form the intersection. 

  • Spacing between lighting units
    Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)
  • Average maintenance factor may be assumed = 0.8.
The document Traffic Engineering | Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE) is a part of the Civil Engineering (CE) Course Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical).
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FAQs on Traffic Engineering - Civil Engineering SSC JE (Technical) - Civil Engineering (CE)

1. What is traffic engineering?
Ans. Traffic engineering is a branch of civil engineering that focuses on the design and management of traffic flow and transportation systems. It involves analyzing traffic patterns, planning road networks, optimizing traffic signals, and implementing measures to improve traffic efficiency and safety.
2. What are the main goals of traffic engineering?
Ans. The main goals of traffic engineering are to ensure the safe and efficient movement of people and goods. This includes reducing congestion, minimizing travel time and delays, improving traffic flow, enhancing road safety, and optimizing the utilization of transportation infrastructure.
3. How do traffic engineers measure and analyze traffic patterns?
Ans. Traffic engineers use various tools and techniques to measure and analyze traffic patterns. This includes collecting data through traffic counts, video surveillance, and vehicle detection sensors. They then analyze this data to understand traffic characteristics, such as volume, speed, density, and flow, which helps in identifying bottlenecks and making informed decisions for traffic management.
4. What are some common methods used by traffic engineers to alleviate congestion?
Ans. Traffic engineers use several methods to alleviate congestion, including: - Implementing traffic signal optimization to improve traffic flow at intersections. - Designing and implementing intelligent transportation systems (ITS) that use technology to manage traffic. - Creating dedicated lanes for public transportation, carpools, or bicycles to encourage alternative modes of transportation. - Conducting traffic impact studies and implementing road widening or capacity expansion projects in high-traffic areas. - Implementing traffic calming measures, such as roundabouts or speed humps, to reduce vehicle speeds in residential areas.
5. How does traffic engineering contribute to road safety?
Ans. Traffic engineering plays a crucial role in enhancing road safety. Traffic engineers analyze crash data, identify high-risk locations, and implement measures to reduce accidents and injuries. This includes improving road design, installing traffic signs and signals, implementing traffic calming measures, and educating the public about safe driving practices. Additionally, traffic engineering also focuses on pedestrian and bicycle safety, ensuring that transportation systems are accessible and safe for all road users.
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