Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Can anybody use this device? 
A: Yes, anyone can use TrafficCOM. 
Q: Can local government use this device? 
A: Yes, anyone can use it. While government may have their own counters already, they can supplement their ability to collect data by acquiring the TrafficCOM device, or by simply accepting/using data generated by other people who are using TrafficCOM. 


Q: Is using TrafficCOM legal?  
A: Yes, as far as we can tell. 
Q: How is TrafficCOM different from other traffic counters on the market? 
A: TrafficCOM is lower in cost, and the data is open, meaning it is not controlled by transportation agencies. 
Q: In what weather conditions can I use TrafficCOM?  
A: You can use TrafficCOM in most weather conditions, from 0 degrees - 100 degrees Fahrenheit is acceptable. The plastic housing is water resistant but should not be submerged in water.
Q: Can I use this to figure out if my street needs speed bumps, traffic lights, or some other kind of infrastructure to improve the street for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers themselves? 
A: Yes! Although keep mind that TrafficCOM is one tool out of a few that should be used. Other tools include talking to your neighbors and local planners to discuss the full range of tools and solutions.
Q: Can I use TrafficCOM and keep the data I collect private?
A: Yes, you simply choose not to "Submit" during the data upload process.
Q: Can I deploy TrafficCOM to cover more than two lanes of traffic at a time?  
A: Yes, but we can not guarantee the accuracy of results. However, we encourage our community to experiment and refine the efficacy of the device. In the future, we will add comprehensive guidelines for usage.
Q: What if I need a replacement tube?
A: Replacement air tubes are available on the store. The tube can easily be replaced by you.
Q: Standard traffic counts are done for weeks or months at a time. Why does TrafficCOM only count only hours at a time?

A: We are trying to change the way people count traffic. We believe shorter counts done over 12 to 48 hours can be more relevant as they offer higher precision and help fill-in the gaps of standard long-duration counts done over weeks and months.

With counts of shorter durations, you can observe the nuances of traffic which may be lost in standard long-duration traffic, for example morning vs. night-time patterns, the effects of wet vs dry weather conditions, or the effects of temporary events like a sporting event at the city's stadium.

We're not the only ones who are doing shorter counts:

  • As of 2011, the New York City DOT conducts 12-hour studies during weekdays 7am - 7pm for their bicycle traffic counts. Read more here.
  • The Massachusetts DOT conducts 48-hour studies for their highway coverage and classification counts. Read more here.
  • Security

    Q: What if someone takes our device from the street?
    A: It is up to you to ensure that the TrafficCOM is not stolen from the street. This means concealing it, locking it, or trusting humanity. We have not been made aware of a traffic counter being stolen to date. Future versions of the device will have a security loop to allow you to lock it to a street fixure, such as a street sign post.


    Q: Does TrafficCOM count pedestrians?
    A: TrafficCOM is designed to count rolling vehicles (automobiles and bicycles). It is not designed to count pedestrians, however it does count pedestrians who step directly on the pressure sensitive tube.
    Q: How long does the battery last?
    A: Each 9V battery will allow between 16 - 24 hours of use. Replace the battery and it will pickup measuring where it left off.
    Q: Can I power the TrafficCOM in other ways to get a longer life?
    A: Yes. Besides the 9V battery that is supplied, there are options for powering it:
    1) You could use a rechargeable 9V battery of your own. 2) Use a 9V or 12V wall adapter like this one. 3) Use the included USB cable connected to your computer or some other USB power source like this one.
    Q: How do I reset the count?
    A: Use the Data Uploader, connect, then click 'Reset Device'.
    Q: What if two cars go over the device at the exact same time?
    A: The device counts one vehicle for every two axles that cross it, so if four axles move across the device it will count two vehicles.
    Q: Does TrafficCOM know the difference between cars, busses, and bikes? 
    A: The electronic unit inside TrafficCOM has a switch to toggle between Automobile mode and Bicycle mode. Set the mode before beginning your count. The modes toggle internal pressure sensitivity and average wheel base distances in order to more accurately calculate speed.
    Q: How does TrafficCOM measure speed with just one tube? 
    A: TrafficCOM uses average wheel base seperation distances of automobiles and bicycles. American cars have an average wheel base separation of 9.0 feet, and bicycles have an average wheel base seperation of 3.25 feet. The device counts the milliseconds between the first and second strike of the tube to calculate a rate (rate = distance / time). The overall value outputted by the device is an average of all readings in miles per hour.
    Q: Can the data be exported to alternative formats?  
    A: Yes. When you connect to the device using the Data Uploader, press 'View Raw Data'. This will print a table of the raw Count (#), Time (min.), and Speed (mi/h) of every reading up to the first 500 readings. You can then copy/paste this data into a spreadsheet program of your choice. A sample of the data can be downloaded here (right-click, Save As).
    Q: What if my device is not working? 
    A: Try power cycling the device (disconnect and reconnect the battery). If that doesn't work, please contact us and describe the issue and we will do our best to solve the problem.
    Q: What else can the device do?
    Using the Data Uploader utility, you can see live data including raw pressure reading, time, and tally count. Connect TrafficCOM to a computer via USB, connect to the device, and click 'View Raw Data' to enable this feature. Although the pressure reading is available for live view, it is not one of the parameters recorded in the memory for later retrieval.
    Q: What else can be done with TrafficCOM?  
    A: We are constantly working with the TrafficCOM community to develop improvements to TrafficCOM. In the future, wireless capability, solar power, and enhanced speed and weight readings will be added to the device. Your participation in the Traffic COMmunity will help us improve its accuracy, durability, and overall efficacy.