Counting Snowmobile Trail Crossings

A snowmobile and rider on flat groomed snow.

While much of a traffic engineer’s focus is on counting vehicle traffic, pedestrians and cyclists. But on occasion, we have the opportunity to do some truly interesting counts. This is a case study on how video traffic counting technology can be used for snowmobile trail crossings.

A couple of years ago, Curt Anderson from Scott County, Minnesota came to our team with an interesting problem. County administration were concerned about the safety of a junction where snowmobiles crossed a county road. The engineering staff wanted to quantify the number of snowmobiles making the crossing in order to determine how big of a safety issue they may be facing (the rate of incidence being related to the amount of exposure).

The problem was on of cost and manpower. Snowmobilers are active based on the levels of snow, which is unpredictable. They are also most active during non-working hours – nights and weekends.  The county couldn’t afford to mobilize staff to sit at the crossing and count the snowmobiles making the crossing.

The county had a couple of our old COUNTcam 120s, but recording for 120 hours wouldn’t be enough. County staff wanted to be able to record for a month and then reduce the data from watching the videos at 20x speed.

Curt asked us if there was anything we could think of to help him get a month long recording.

Quinn in our office came up with a battery booster pack that plugged into the charging port of the COUNTcam 120.  The booster pack was built in a very simple way so Kurt could swap out the battery in the booster pack and keep the system recording continuously. Ultimately, this let him go out once a week to swap out the SD card and a spare battery.

The county was able to get the data they needed and Curt was happy.  Let us know if you have an interesting hardware, data collection, or traffic engineering problem. We’re here to help!