Traffic engineering is a specialization in engineering that deals with the planning, geometric design and traffic operations of roads, streets and highways… their networks, terminals, abutting lands and relationships with other modes of transportation for the achievement of safe, efficient and convenient movement of persons and goods. While many people think of traffic exclusively in terms of using their personal automobile, traffic engineering in reality is far more complicated and must account for a wide variety of transportation modes.
When roads and streets were built many years ago, the biggest task facing the road builder was to keep them passable in all types of weather. The problem of moving large numbers of cars and parking them was not significant. Consideration for multiple modes of transportation was not critical. As the number of cars increases, taxing the capacity of our streets and highways, the field of traffic engineering has become increasingly prominent along with increased demand to account for other modes of transportation.
Each year more people own and operate cars. Urban growth has increased the need for improving the movement of people and goods. Funding for new facilities has become more difficult due to resistance to higher taxes as well as energy and environmental concerns. This has resulted in an increased emphasis on finding ways to better use the existing road system as well as finding ways to better move people and goods. Likewise, it has also led to greater emphasis on complete streets that account for multiple modes of transportation.