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Traffic Engineer

Devise roadway systems to keep traffic flowing smoothly.

What does a Traffic Engineer do?

Imagine your drive to work or school in the morning. At any given intersection, there are arrows painted onto the pavement, lane-change markings, bike lane dividers, medians, signs, signals, and many other traffic indicators. All of these informational markers inform drivers about dangers and keep drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians safe.

If you can remember the last time you got off a plane and walked out of the airport, then you can visualize the job a traffic engineer had in creating space for the passengers to safely move in and out of the terminal. In addition to safety, your job as a traffic engineer is to make sure traffic flows. Each shuttle bus, taxi, passenger car, and limousine needs a clearly defined area to drop off and pick up passengers so that traffic doesn’t snarl with each suitcase unload.

It’s no easy task to find ways for pedestrians to safely share the road with trucks and cars, but your goal is to do just that. You spend your days as a traffic engineer evaluating designs for proposed intersections, parking lots, and roadways. Then you develop and design a system that keeps traffic of all types flowing. You might also design detour routes for proposed construction projects.

In addition to new infrastructure and construction projects, you also work to improve existing roadways. You commonly investigate areas where accidents happen often, and suggest turn lanes, traffic signals, or street signs to improve safety.