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Traffic Engineering vs Transportation Engineering

Traffic Engineering | February 4, 2021

While both traffic engineering and transportation engineering have a lot of similarities, they also have some key differences. If you are unsure about the differences between traffic engineering and transportation engineering, consulting with an expert like the ones from Valley Traffic Systems will help ensure that you hire the right person for the job.

Learn about the importance of traffic engineering.

What is Transportation Engineering?

As a part of the civil engineering sector, transportation engineering focuses on the planning, design, operation, and maintenance of efficient and safe transportation systems, including roads, railways, waterways, and intermodal operations. Transportation engineers are trained to focus on the bigger picture by taking into account infrastructure (bridges, roads, rails, etc.), vehicles (cars, trucks, railcars, boats, etc.), and individual users. By working to understand how all three of these elements work together, a transportation engineer can get a better sense of the system as a whole to find and fix any problem areas.

Transportation engineers can determine when new infrastructure is required and when existing infrastructure needs to be updated to meet the growing demands of users. They are also trained to determine the size and capacity for required transportation systems, the materials and thickness of pavement needed, and the design geometry of a roadway or railway.

What is Traffic Engineering?

Traffic engineering is a specialized discipline that falls under the umbrella of transportation engineering. Traffic engineers are highly trained and experienced in understanding and changing technical aspects in road design—geometry, traffic lights, road signs, crosswalks, etc.—for both new and old roadways in order to maximize the overall flow of traffic, reduce congestion, and improve safety. All traffic engineers are also required to have proficient working knowledge of data analysis, modelling for predicting future traffic growth, simulations, and problem solving for assessing accident reports and traffic flow reports.

Find out what a traffic engineer is.

Differences Between Traffic Engineering and Transportation Engineering

While transportation engineering focuses on the safe and efficient movement of people and goods through the use of infrastructure systems, traffic engineering focuses on the operation and management of transportation systems to ensure the smooth movement of vehicles and users.

If you would like to learn more about the differences between traffic engineering and transportation engineering, or if you are interested in our traffic engineering services, please contact Valley Traffic Systems at the location nearest you or by filling out a contact form on our website. Our team of highly trained and experienced traffic engineers would love to help with your upcoming construction project.


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