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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA–IP–90–002
Date: July 1990

Traffic Detector Handbook



The Traffic Detector Handbook is a product of the Federal Highway Administration technology transfer program. It is intended for use by traffic engineers and technicians having responsibility for the design, installation and maintenance of traffic detectors.

Judicious application of the concepts and procedures set forth in the Handbook should result in improved installations of traffic detectors and a long–term savings of public funds.

Other resources to assist with selection and installation and maintenance of traffic and vehicle detectors are under development. They include a Traffic Detector Field Manual and a videotape training course. Both will be tied to the Handbook and will focus on practical considerations in installing and maintaining detectors.

Sufficient copies of this Handbook are being distributed to provide a minimum of one copy to each FHWA regional office, division office, and State highway agency. Direct distribution is being made to the division offices.

Director, Office of Safety
Research and Development


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PDF Version (18 MB)

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1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No. 3. Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Traffic Detector Handbook

5. Report Date

July 1990

  6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

James H. Kell, Iris J. Fullerton, Milton K. Mills

8. Performing Organization Report No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address

JHK & Associates
2000 Powell Street, Suite 1090
Emeryville, CA 94608

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)


  11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Research and Development

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Technical Handbook
May 1988 – July 1990

  14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes

FHWA Contracting Officer's Technical Representative: Juan Morales (HRT–20), Roger Dean (HRT–20)
FHWA Contract Administrator: Roger Martin (HCP–42)

16. Abstract

This handbook is a revised, updated version of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Traffic Detector Handbook, originally published as Implementation Package FHWA–IP–85–1. This upgraded version of the Handbook supersedes and replaces the previous edition. It has been restructured, corrected, and revised to update discussions of concepts and equipment to reflect the current state of the art, particularly as it relates to the microprocessor revolution, advances in control technology, and real–world application experience.

The overall objective of this Handbook is to provide a single resource and basic reference to aid the practicing engineer and technician in planning, designing, installing, and maintaining detectors.

It provides a compendium of existing detector technology to facilitate the understanding of all aspects of detector systems. Best current practices are described with emphasis on proper design, applications, and installation processes and techniques.

17. Key Words

Detectors, Inductive Loops, Magnetometers, Magnetic Detectors, Traffic Signal Control, Traffic Surveillance & Control, Vehicle Detection, System Sensors.

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.

19. Security Classif. (of this report)


20. Security Classif. (of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price

Form DOT F 1700.7 (8–72) Reproduction of completed page authorized



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