Autobahn. Who Are These People?

Oct 13th, 2010, 09:01 PM
  #1  
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Autobahn. Who Are These People?

My first time in Germany in Sept/Oct, did quite a bit of driving. Frequently on the autobahn overpasses were anywhere from one lone person to a dozen or so people who seemed to be tailgating or counting cars or waiting for the alien mothership to land...I don't know what. Some had orange vests and binoculars, some were decked out with lawn chairs and coolers.

I Googled this a number of ways and couldn't find anything...what the heck are these people doing???
yevkasem is offline  
Oct 13th, 2010, 10:43 PM
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You're guessing is not too bad.

Some people (rural folks, you know), actually like to take a stroll to overpasses and use them as a lookout.

The more relevant people can be cops checking for tailgating. Near overpasses you can often see marks on the roadway, at the edges of the lanes. The overpass bridges can be fitted with cameras which use those marks to calculate speed and distance between cars. And then take pictures of those who do not keep the minimum distance. The cameras are usually not stationary, so there is usually crew who operates them on location from a van or car and stays nearby.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Oct 13th, 2010, 11:26 PM
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In Britain, traffic censuses are carried out by having people count the number and type of vehicles travelling on particular roads at particular times. The information is used when planning new roads or road improvements. If the weather is fine, the staff sit in picnic chairs; if wet, they try to stay in their cars. They take refreshments with them. I would guess that the majority of people involved are retired public sector staff who are happy to do casual work from time to time and are reliable and competent.

How are traffic censuses carried out in your country?
chartley is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 04:05 AM
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In the parts of the US where I have lived (not west of New Mexico), they are usually carried out by students, possibly civil engineering students, or apparent retirees.

Now that I am retired, it would be a nice casual job!
Ackislander is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 08:37 AM
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Interesting...and thank you! I was seriously starting to think I was witnessing the start of some weird horror movie

Traffic census in the US depend on how busy the road is. Usually they stretch a rubber tube (similar to what they used to have at filling stations) across the lanes so that the tires rolling over it activates a counter. That only works for single lane or not so busy two lane roads in each direction though. Occasionally you'll see a guy sitting in a vehicle w/a counter if the rubber tube apparatus wasn't available or practical.

On interstates, it's all computers & cameras giving real-time flow, speed & count data.
yevkasem is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 08:52 AM
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I can't begin to think what anyone in this area would do with a traffic census. there is just to0 much of it - always and everywhere. Why count cars? You can't make the road any bigger (alredy done that). And the governmet doesn;t want to suport public transit (just lots of gas guzzlers).
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 02:56 PM
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Yes, it is a very odd sight!
klondike is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 09:01 AM
  #8  
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@nytraveller - No kidding. I'm from NY originally and go back pretty regularly. It blows my mind to look at Google Maps traffic overlay at 12AM on a Wed night and all the major routes in and out of the city and in all the boroughs are red.

Which is kind of why, on the autobahn, I was saying to myself "they *can't* be counting cars" b/c we were packed like sardines *and* moving at a pretty good clip...you could just check the "the road is maxed out" box for that hour and go home!
yevkasem is offline  

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