About the research
The Center for Transportation Research and Education performed a traffic signal inventory study for the Iowa Department of Transportation. The purpose of this study was to determine the level of compliance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and other industry standards of traffic signals on the state highway system. Signals were randomly selected throughout the state of Iowa. Only signals in cities with a population less than 5,000 were considered. Several intersections need to be addressed immediately to correct clearance timing settings. Red clearance intervals were frequently too short. A handful of intersections had inadequate pedestrian clearance times. Six intersections had at least one yellow clearance interval that did not meet Institute of Transportation Engineers standards. Some of the intersections likely would not meet traffic signal warrants and should be investigated for possible removal. The most common problem found with traffic signals was a lack of maintenance. Many of the signals had at least one of the following problems: burned out lights (signals and/or pedestrian heads), pedestrian lenses in need of replacement, dirty cabinet/missing or poor filter, missing visors, or inoperative pedestrian push buttons. Timing sheets were frequently missing or out of date. Another frequent noncompliance issue was the use of backplates. Backplates should be used on signals viewed against a bright sky. The majority of signals inventoried did not have backplates on the mast-arm mounted signals. The timing at some intersections could likely be improved by reducing the cycle length. Where there were multiple signals in close proximity rarely was there any attempt at signal coordination. Finally, a number of intersections had equipment that by today?s standards would be considered obsolete.