Improving Traffic Signal Operations: A Primer

Federal Highway Administration


Traffic congestion is a major problem in cities of all sizes.

This report describes how some relatively simple, low-cost adjustments to a traffic signal system can reduce traffic congestion and lead to big payoffs in time savings, environmental benefits, and safety. The report is organized in the following seven chapters: (1) Traffic Signals: Tools for Improving Safety and Traffic Flow; (2) Simple Strategies with Big Payoffs; (3) How Traffic Signals Work; (4) When Is a Signal Needed?; (5) Traffic Signal Maintenance; (6) Legal Aspects; and (7) Funding Traffic Signal Improvements.

Source Organization Location

Washington, DC

Operations Area of Practice

  • Regional Traffic Signal Operations & Program Management
  • Traffic Signal Timing

Organizational Capability Element

  • Arterial Traffic Control Device Operations

Content Type

  • Case Studies & Lessons Learned

Role in Organization

  • Associate Engineer
  • Engineer
  • Manager / First Line Supervisor
  • Senior Engineer
  • Senior Manager
  • Technician

Publishing Organization

  • FHWA
  • ITE


  • Available Tools
  • How-To
  • Learning

Document Downloads

Prime Contractor
Insititute of Transportation Engineers
Issue Date
January 5th, 2015
Publication Number
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