Gorski Consulting has documented the Highway 401 traffic volume in its continuing series on safety along the South-western Ontario segment of the highway. A series of videotaping sessions was conducted at four sites along the highway. The video is being analysed and findings will be reported in future postings to this website.

The current discussion will review the traffic volumes that were documented during our videotaping sessions. It can be recalled from previous posts that multiple video cameras were set up at four sites as shown below.

Location of testing sites along Highway 401 where traffic observations were made.

The Elgin Road site was documented in November of 016. At that time procedures were not fully developed and camera positions were such that traffic volume was not easy to determine.

The three remaining sites were documented this fall (2018). Videotaping was conducted for approximately 2 hours at the three sites. Procedures were altered such that cameras were positioned on an overpass which provided a view along the length of the highway. This made it easy to count vehicles and obtain a total traffic volume. The site at Westminster Drive was videotaped a second time on December 2, 2018 because of the interesting observations that were made in the original study on October 30th.

The table below summarizes the observed traffic volumes at the three sites.

It can be observed that there are differences in the traffic depending on the day in the week. For example a weekend such as Sunday produces substantially less heavy truck traffic as indicated in the December 2nd data.

The data for Dillon Road was obtained on the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday and, being a Friday, a low amount of heavy truck traffic would be expected because most drivers would  be at home for the holidays. This is demonstrated in the very low truck counts for November 23rd (318) even though the videotaping occurred on a weekday.

We can also see the difference in non-truck traffic. A very large number of non-trucks were observed on the Sunday of December 2nd.

These differences in the volume and characteristics of the traffic on Highway 401 need to be considered when we are discussing the safety of the highway. The presence of heavy trucks is likely to be one of the major factors in the highway’s collision history. As noted previously, truck traffic is limited to travel at a maximum of 105 km/h whereas the light vehicles travel much faster, about 116 to 118 km/h. This difference occurs even though the heavy trucks are slowing the other vehicles by “interfering” in their travel. While slowing these speeders may be a good thing it is also creating traffic conflicts that we need to consider.

Further details  from the video data will be revealed as it becomes available and will be posted to the Gorski Consulting website.