Seeing black tubes stretched out across the American roads may not mean anything to you but in reality, they have a purpose and a very important one. Not everyone knows what this is for. Some thought that workers just left it there while some even think that they are just there to scare people because these are tracking device. Knowing a little bit more about these black tubes is important and when you see one on your road trip, you will never disregard them anymore.
According to the United States Department of Transportation, these black tubes are called ‘Pneumatic Road Tube.’ These are used not only to count traffic but for other reasons as well. These tubes can be set up making it temporary or permanent. The temporary configurations can be installed and set up for one day while the permanent installations are linked to a counter device and will be kept permanently inside a roadside lock box.
These are sensors that send a burst of air pressure with the rubber tube when the vehicle passes over it. The pressure pulse will close an air switch and will produce an electric signal which will then be transmitted to an analysis software or a counter. There is a counting device that will take note if how many times did this happen. These tubes are portable and they use lead-acid gel and other rechargeable batteries as their power source.
The Purpose of Pneumatic Road Tube
A video from Bloomington Minnesota City shows that these tubes are also used to gather your driving history. According to the video, they try to use this data and turn it into a change that will be useful to the public. Brian Hansen, the Engineer Technician said that the road tubes are collecting the number of vehicles that are passing over them. These tubes are usually left for 48 hours to gather all of the data that they need which includes the volume, speed, different classification of vehicles used in the road, and also the gaps between vehicles.
Sometimes you can see only one black tube, but there are instances where you will find another one just a couple of feet away from the first tube. The double pneumatic road tubes are used to determine whether the road is servicing mostly passenger cars or the multi-axle vehicles like trucks and also other huge transport vehicles.
What Happens To The Information Gathered?
Brian Hansen said that the information gathered is very important for the state aid fundings. Information should be correct and accurate for them to get the right amount of fund allocated for the roadway. These road tubes are also important to determine if there are any striping changes or signage changes in the neighborhood. This is also used for local traffic calming when someone calls with concerns about speeding or cut through traffic and make these changes as needed.
The black tubes on the road that we think we’re not used for anything do actually have a purpose and they do more than just count the traffic. They have more purpose which is very important. Now we know how this road tube works and what they are used for. Knowing these little things will also help us understand certain information that is puzzling for us.