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Temporary traffic control legislation varies significantly between countries and regions, even amongst developed nations. This being said, legislation in most places is focused on achieving similar goals: limiting interruptions to traffic flow and ensuring the safety of motorists and work zone workers alike.
Traffic control plan courses are becoming an integral part of ensuring these goals are met, and legislative requirements are adhered to.
In this post, we will discuss how the traffic control plan course landscape across three countries operates and how RapidPlan, Invarion’s traffic control plan software, is playing a key role in meeting the goals of traffic control companies and road authorities.
In the United States, the national minimum requirements for temporary traffic control are outlined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). States sometimes have additional requirements or their own traffic control manuals, which are often more stringent. A good example of this is the MUTCD for California, which includes additional requirements for temporary signage, temporary traffic control setups, and traffic control safety in school areas.
Before beginning work on roadways, plans need to be created for how traffic will be temporarily controlled in the vicinity of a work zone. Those plans then need to be approved by the governing transportation agency – whether that be a city’s Public Works Department or a state’s Transportation Department. In most jurisdictions, the designer of the traffic control plan needs to be certified, or have some formal qualifications, that ensure a proper understanding of legislations, risks, and other regional requirements.
Those interested in creating traffic control plans should first complete the Traffic Control Technician (TCT) course, before moving on to the Traffic Control Supervisor (TCS) course. These courses are hosted by the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA). The TCT course covers the fundamental requirements for traffic control, such as how to calculate proper taper lengths, the sign spacing requirements and proper sign placement on the roadways, as well as which signs and other devices are required for various types of work zones. The TCS course ensures that the traffic control measures outlined on approved traffic control plans are properly implemented and operated on the worksite. Additionally, Traffic Control Design Specialist courses are available, designed for engineers and decision-makers within transportation agencies and consultants in the private sector who design or review these plans.
Similar to the United States, Australia’s temporary traffic control requirements are also legislated by a national MUTCD document. These national standards are then adopted and formulated into different manuals and documents for each specific state, this results in the states having their own specific signage and traffic control set up requirements.
AustRoads, who is the association of Australian and New Zealand road transport and traffic agencies, have recently made an industry push towards harmonizing all states to one set of rules and requirements for traffic control. After reviewing statistics and information relating to some failed work site setups, it was recognized that activities associated with temporary traffic control represented a level of risk, it was deemed that due to this risk level a suitable response was required.
These risks were associated with serious incidents at worksites across Australia, which resulted in injuries and deaths of road workers, traffic management personnel, and the general public. For these reasons alone, Austroads formulated a new guideline and was formally introduced in 2020, titled the Australian Guide to Temporary Traffic Management (AGTTM), the main goal of the guideline is to align all states and territories to a similar standard for traffic control worksite setups to strengthen and reinforce worksite safety.
Whilst the AGTTM is merely just a guide with recommendations; Queensland, a state in northeastern Australia, has taken the front foot approach and adopted a new traffic manual titled the Queensland Guide to Traffic Management (QGTTM), which aligns most of the recommendations from the AGTTM and Australian Standards and incorporates them into their own traffic control manual. Other states around Australia are yet to follow suit in fully harmonizing their standards to the AGTTM, but are making small steps to follow the same path.
Individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in the traffic management planning industry can do so with relative ease, most states around Australia follow a similar process for training and qualification. For example, in New South Wales, an individual can attend and complete the Prepare traffic management plans and traffic guidance schemes course, without any prerequisites. During this 3-day traffic control plan course, students formulate and complete a series of plans using RapidPlan for the final assessment. Once an individual has passed the course, they will be qualified to create and approve traffic control plans for worksites.
In 2019, the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) introduced a new Temporary Traffic Management competency model for all individuals involved in the traffic control industry. The new model was put together collaboratively with the temporary traffic control industry and is planned to be completely integrated by the end of 2021.
This was treated as a priority task by the NZTA who was given the recommendation to introduce competence checks for traffic plan drawers as a result of an inquiry by their Coronial Court. Prior to the new competency model, there was an abundance of unsafe and non-compliant plans being accepted, resulting in ineffective and potentially hazardous traffic control.
With the introduction of the competency model, a new course was created for people wishing to create traffic control plans, named the Temporary Traffic Management Planner (TTMP) course. Once an individual has passed the 2-day course, they would then have the knowledge to safely and effectively draw traffic control plans legally.
Over the course of the coming months, the NZTA will look to supersede its current guide to traffic management which is named the Code of Practice for Temporary Traffic Management (COPTTM). In favor of a new and improved guide, leveraging off the new training model that has recently been introduced.
The increasing role of RapidPlan in traffic control plan courses
In many of these programs, individuals undergoing training are now required to complete assessments consisting of designing traffic control plans based on live worksites. These can either be drawn by hand (which is awfully time-consuming!) or drawn in specialized traffic control plan software, such as RapidPlan.
As the world leader in traffic control plan software, RapidPlan is used in most traffic and engineering organizations around the globe. Over the past 20 years, RapidPlan has become the industry standard software in many countries, cementing itself as the cornerstone of day-to-day operations for traffic organizations and authorities.
Apart from being an industry-wide standard, training organizations have also gravitated towards using RapidPlan in their traffic control plan courses, because it is easy to learn, and easy to use. Katrina from Dubbo Traffic Control explains, “we use RapidPlan on a daily basis, and would be lost without it. Our operational staff says it is very user-friendly and accommodates all functions required by our clients”.
Often, planners will find it difficult to convert the detail of the plan outline into a staged diagram. Stephen Crabtree, Head Trainer from Men at Work explains how this isn’t a problem with RapidPlan ‘’It’s so easy to capture the information from the traffic management strategy and convert it into a Traffic Guidance Scheme within RapidPlan’’. Stephen also further emphasized the ease of use for individuals not confident with new technology, making it easier to teach in a class context ”The best part about RapidPlan is that you don’t have to be a computer guru to work yourself around the software”.
Using RapidPlan as part of a traffic control plan course allows for enrichment of the presented content. Rather than directing your students via words, you can visually display content making it much easier to get your message across. Displaying demonstrations of worksites and how each stage of a traffic control plan is created in real-time will provide a more engaging experience for the students.
According to trainers leading these traffic control plan courses with RapidPlan, it allows for increased student engagement, in a way that wasn’t possible with old pen-and-paper solutions. Katrina from Dubbo Traffic Control runs a traffic control training department for her business and praised the software for its accessibility for staff, ”Our trainers love it as it’s simple and easy to use. It’s a fantastic learning tool.”
When planning the curriculum for your traffic control plan course, time allotment is important to consider for course content. As mentioned, one of the great things about RapidPlan, and part of what makes it so conducive to training environments, is its ease of use. RapidPlan features comprehensive sign libraries, and placing signs on your plans is a simple matter of dragging and dropping.
Designing road structures in the software is as easy as clicking your computer mouse and shaping the roads as you go. In fact, the way you use the road tools in RapidPlan is the same way every other tool is used. This standardization effectively minimizes the time required to learn RapidPlan, helping it fit seamlessly into new and existing traffic control plan course curriculums alike.
Marco, who is a temporary traffic management planner and trainer from Traffic Management Academy attested to this “RapidPlan is such a simple, user-friendly platform that we use to design all of our traffic management plans”. Marco then elaborated on it’s benefit for the classroom “With the new training module in New Zealand there is a need to conduct practical assessments on all of our candidates, this is where RapidPlan has been introduced to assist us with our training’’.
Stephen, at Men at Work, also had this to say, ‘’The software is intuitive and easy to navigate for newcomers to the industry’’. Whilst speaking of its ease of use, Stephen also opened up about how it reduces the strain for trainers, ‘’We can display diagrams in a stepped process, allowing the students to fully understand how to map out a traffic control plan’’
RapidPlan education licensing options
Education licenses for RapidPlan are widely used by traffic control training companies around the world. Our goal is provide educators cost-effective access to industry best practice software, while providing students with the opportunity to get hands-on with the software they will be using throughout their professional lives.
We know that courses can vary in both length and complexity, which is why we offer flexible licensing options to both educators and students. If you’re looking to incorporate RapidPlan as part of your traffic control plan course, up-skill, or use our software as part of your university course, simply contact our team