Expert Fitting Service


Nothing to do with protecting yourself from getting a speeding ticket, but since I get so many e-mail's about those "blue posts by the side of the road" I thought I would cover it in a review of Trafficmaster and cover what the posts are about.. I have been using the YQ a screen based unit for about 4 years now, and love it. It does has its flaws such as a not so easy screen to read even more so now they have updated the trunk roads, and it rattles a bit on the buttons, but that's nothing the radio does not drown out.

The unit costs around £150 and for that you get two types of dash board mounts, power lead, 1 month subscription to the service, instructions and a tape to listen to.
Its dead easy to set up, and work.

You have to subscribe to the service, £100 for a year, £60 for half a year, you do this by popping along to places such as Halfords and buying a key, this then slides into the back of the YQ and your off. One thing to watch out is once the key is in it starts to count down, and even if you take it out for a few weeks and then put it back in it will knock off those days as well.

The green screen gives the information and you access it via the buttons on the front "M" to access the features such as the pager, news and settings. "+" to zoom in "-" to zoom out and a power button.

News Icon, anythig from General news to sport Messages Icon, the unit can act as a pager Warning Beep on or off Contrast Icon Light Adjustment Zoom Square, this bring up the part of the map it covers Network Area

The first screen is the full view of the UK. (Mouse over the image for info)
Square areas on the screen will flash to tell you that that area has a problem.

Problem Area Southbound on the M25 Zoom Square Area Problem Area Problem Area Problem Area
Press the "+" button and you get a closer view, this gives you small arrows in the
problem area along with the direction.(Mouse over the image for info)

Problem Area, showing 15 & 25mph  average speed 25 mph average speed 25 mph average speed 5 mph average speed 5 mph average speed Service area
Press the "+" button again and you get an even closer view, this now gives you
small arrows with the average speed in the problem area along
with the direction..(Mouse over the image for info)

Press the "+" button again and sometimes it will tell what the problem is.

It all works quite well, but I do think Trafficmaster may have the odd problem in detecting tailbacks, one very good example of that was a trip I did down the A1M, a lorry carrying a crane had caught fire on the northbound carriageway, I got plenty of notice fro the YQ and went round the problem, I joined back onto the A1M just below the lorry fire, continuing southbound. The southbound carriageway was blocked, and it turns out also had built up a queue that was 18 mils long. The YQ unit showed nothing on the northbound side at all, only the southbound. A call to Trafficmaster confirmed my suspicion, they knew nothing about it. Now if I was northbound I would not have been happy. I have had this a few times over the last year, and it only since the new system is being used.

Overall though the system is great, one of the most noticeable things was how much it helped to remove the stress when you come up behind a queue, because you know if its not on your screen there is a good chance its not a long one and before you know it your moving again, and if its on your screen and its a long one you'll get the satisfaction knowing that you are going round it and that middle or outside lane hog that would not move is stuck in it...

Now that brings me on to all these blue posts you keep seeing on the side of the road.
Short Description. Colbolt Blue, two poles, one is short and stumpy, other is tall and thin. The tall one has the camera or cameras on it, some cameras are suspended on an arm out towards the road others are just on the pole. Above them are two smaller poles, these are aerial's.

I must get at least 10 e-mail's a week asking me what they are. They get mistaken for SPECS the most. As you may know SPECS has used a very similar colour, wonder why, this poses a problem to Trafficmaster who have tried to make it obvious what their cameras are so as to avoid acts of vandalism All the units from Trafficmaster have "Trafficmaster" embossed somewhere on the units.

Left: PTFM pole unit. Middle: PTFM Bridge unit. Right: Old Bridge unit.

So what do they do. Trafficmaster's PTFM technology uses special cameras to track traffic flow through points on the trunk road network, which often include roundabouts and traffic lights. These cameras read an electronic pattern enabling recognition of the central four digits of target vehicle number plates and the generation of an electronic 'tag'.

Batches of vehicle tagging data are transmitted by radio link every 4 minutes to a computer at Trafficmaster's Milton Keynes control centre which matches up the 'sightings' of a sample quantity of vehicles. The company is then able to monitor accurately the average speed or journey time for every four mile 'link' across the country. This monitoring process is taking place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All data is encrypted.

Above: Overview of the Trafficmaster PTFM system.

PTFM can instantaneously detect accidents or incidents on the network as any unexpected change to traffic flow can be picked up within seconds. The system's software actively allows for time at traffic lights and roundabouts. It does not require sighting of every vehicle and tests have demonstrated that a small percentage of vehicles provide accurate measurement of general traffic flow. The system has been developed to recognise the digitised imaging of number plates at high speed and in all weather conditions.

In addition, the system is being developed to use neuro networks - a form of computer intelligence which allows the software to predict the movement of traffic flows, and recognise when traffic congestion is building, or starting to disperse. Combined with navigation capabilities, the ability to record and monitor journey times centrally, means that the system would not only recognise the busiest time of travel in certain areas, but recommend only the fastest alternative routes for that particular time of day.

So now you know what the posts and units hanging off bridges are.

My thanks to Clare Schofield at Trafficmaster for her assistance.


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