Present information graphically to improve comprehension.

National experience using archived traffic detector data for monitoring highway performance.

United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

This report provides a summary of lessons learned from the Mobility Monitoring Program concerning the use of archived traffic detector data for monitoring highway performance. One lesson learned from the report concerns presenting information in a form that is understandable to all applicable audiences.
  • Present information graphically to improve comprehension by all audiences. The audience for transportation performance information can include a wide range of transportation practitioners, agency mid- and upper-level managers, elected officials, business leaders, and the media. Simple charts and graphics are more easily interpreted by this diverse audience than complex data tables and lengthy text descriptions. Data collectors and analysts may be adept at interpreting complex technical data because that is their primary job function; however, other non-technical audiences may only be able to devote 30 to 60 seconds to understanding key report elements. Several practitioners have mentioned the "spouse test," in which they asked their spouse (who has a non-technical background) to review and interpret certain graphics or charts that illustrated transportation performance.
  • Summarize projects with one-page of text and graphics. Another "rule-of-thumb" is that every research project or activity should be summarized with a single page of text and a picture or graphic.
This experience suggests that it is important to keep graphics simple when presenting information to a diverse audience. This experience also suggests that an effective communication technique includes creating a one-page summary, containing both text and graphics, for all research projects and activities.

Lesson Comments

No comments posted to date

Comment on this Lesson

To comment on this lesson, fill in the information below and click on submit. An asterisk (*) indicates a required field. Your name and email address, if provided, will not be posted, but are to contact you, if needed to clarify your comments.


Lessons Learned: Monitoring Highway Congestion and Reliability Using Archived Traffic Detector Data

Author: Shawn Turner, Rich Margiotta, and Tim Lomax

Published By: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration

Source Date: 10/1/2004

EDL Number: 14059

Other Reference Number: FHWA-HOP-05-003

URL: http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/lessons_learned/index.htm#toc

Other Lessons From this Source

Lesson Contacts

Lesson Contact(s):

Rich Margiotta
Cambridge Systematics

Lesson Analyst:

Jane Lappin
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center


Average User Rating

0 ( ratings)

Rate this Lesson

(click stars to rate)

Application Areas

None defined


None defined


United States

Systems Engineering

Show the V

None defined

Focus Areas

None defined


None defined

Lesson ID: 2006-00268