If You Ever See Black Cables Stretching Across The Road, This Is What You Should Do

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There are black cables across the road. If you see them, do these things.

While driving to and from work every day, you may have seen some interesting things: black cables laid out across the road, looking like silent guardians of the sidewalk. But just what are these mysterious tubes, and what do they do for our transportation system? How to handle traffic and gather facts are the key to finding the answer.


These black cables don’t look like much, but they are actually portable traffic counters that the government has put in specific places to collect data. These tubes, which are mostly used by local governments, hold very important information about how roads are used and how traffic flows. There are more than 12,000 of these traffic lights spread out across the state. They collect useful information that helps us plan and improve our road networks.

Getting to the bottom of how the black cables work

The science that makes these rubber cords work is elegantly simple but amazingly effective.2 When a car’s tyres touch the tube, a burst of air is released, which causes an electrical signal that is picked up by a counter device. This clever air system can keep track of how many cars drive over a road in a certain amount of time. By looking at the time between these air bursts, transport companies can learn about times when traffic is really bad. When used in pairs, these tubes give even more information, which can be used to figure out the type of car, its speed, and its direction.

Such knowledge is not at all unimportant; it’s what makes it possible to make smart choices about things like road signs, speed limits, and how to spend money on transportation. With these new ideas, cities and towns can improve how they handle traffic, making sure that the roads stay safe and work well for everyone.



Road Tubes: More Than Just Adding Up

The main job of these inflatable road tubes is to count vehicles, but they are useful for a lot more than that.3 These small, unnoticeable devices collect data in a variety of ways and are very important for improving our roads and making sure traffic flows smoothly.

For more information on how these tubes work, visit the U.S. Department of Transportation. A burst of air pressure is created when a vehicle’s tyres move along the rubber tube. This closes an air switch that sends an electrical signal to a counter device. These tubes can be set up either temporarily or permanently, and each has its own function. Short-term setups, which usually only last a day, give you a quick look at how traffic is moving, while long-term setups allow for continuous, detailed tracking.

Transportation agencies put these black wires in places where they won’t cause much interference, usually along straight sections of road so they can collect the most data. Agency can find out how many cars are on the road and how much time has passed between vehicles using single-tube setups. When matched tubes are used, the system gets into the details of traffic and records speed, direction, and number of axles.

These simple tubes are also useful when managing roads in cities is hard. If people in the area complain about speeding or cutting corners, these tubes are sent out to look into and confirm the claims. They collect information that helps make transport budgets and put effective ideas into action.

Finally, the next time you see those strange black wires crossing the road, you’ll understand the complicated web of data they create behind the scenes. These modest tools keep an eye on our roads, picking up on their heartbeat and helping to shape the decisions that affect how we get around. As you drive over these tubes, keep in mind that they are more than what they seem to be. They are the heart of how our road networks are changing.

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