Abstract image of red light trails

Our expansion factors leverage Geotab ITS’ most up-to-date commercial truck data, comparing it to ground truths reported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

With Geotab ITS’ expansion factors, state transportation leaders and planners are provided with reliable data they can trust to represent their respective regions’ total commercial vehicle movements accurately. Using these valuable insights, they’re able to guide their policy and infrastructure projects in smarter, more data-driven ways.

This article will dive into what our expansion factors are, how expansion factors work and the specific ways transportation leaders can use them to improve their road network efficiency and resiliency.


What are expansion factors?

With Geotab ITS, expansion factors are connected vehicle data categories that can be used to understand holistic vehicle movement throughout an entire region. Our devices pull commercial vehicle data from nearly four million commercial vehicles and over 26 million daily trips to help tell an accurate story of an area’s total commercial vehicle travel. That amounts to over 190 million miles driven per day. 

Our expansion factors are separated into three primary categories: Weekday Only, Highway Group and Vehicle Group. These categories demonstrate when an expansion factor accounts for vehicle driving activity, what roads vehicles commonly drive on and what types of vehicles they are, respectively.


How Geotab ITS’ commercial traffic volume can be extrapolated across an entire region with expansion factors

Expansion factors allow us to accurately project a summary of all commercial travel in a region because they are measured against separately reported data from the FHWA. Verifying alignment between our data and theirs helps us confidently portray how commercial vehicles are moving within and across states.

There are multiple intriguing use cases where our expansion factors can serve as an invaluable asset to transportation planners and policymakers.

Electric vehicle (EV) charger siting: Looking at the total number of vehicles that can be electrified in a region, where they’re commonly going and where new EV chargers can be placed is a critical way to move sustainability measures forward. States are able to improve their resiliency using commercial motor vehicle (CMV) expansion factors to add smarter locations for EV charging, helping them decrease reliance on fossil fuels and support logistics companies in their fleet electrification journeys. With accurate information, planners are able to better understand total electrification potential. This helps inform necessary grid sizes, overall EV demand and total charging demand, helping states set their projects up for success from the start.

Traffic improvement strategies: CMVs represent a large portion of the overall traffic movement puzzle. Understanding the busiest times for CMV traffic, which days see the most travel and what number of CMVs regularly move throughout a region helps planners identify problematic areas. They can then make new infrastructure and policy choices that are geared at alleviating the issues identified. Once a decision is implemented, expansion factor data can also help planners measure the results of the new strategy. Estimating total traffic enables teams to identify mobility and reliability issues of assets being predominantly used by commercial vehicles on a large-scale level.

Safety enhancements to the grid: Keeping the public and commercial drivers safer is the number one priority for state transportation planners. By studying collision data, common thoroughfare bottlenecks and the results of new transportation changes, planners can hone their traffic safety strategies to become more effective over time. Hypothesizing how certain traffic flow changes will positively impact safety and studying vehicle speeds gives officials greater faith in their safety enhancement plans, driving better outcomes. Available truck parking also has a significant impact on an area’s overall traffic safety.  If few parking options for large commercial vehicles exist, increased congestion can occur as well as commercial vehicle operators driving too long without adequate rest. Expansion factors help with estimating the total number of trucks regularly stopping at certain locations, enabling planners to assess ways to increase parking capacity and transportation safety.


Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse: An expansion factors data analysis

Expansion factors also have tremendous value in helping measure the impacts of a safety and infrastructure incident. In the aftermath of the recent and tragic Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse, these data categories helped us publish an analysis of the Baltimore region’s traffic patterns. Here were some of the key takeaways:

  • In the days and weeks after the bridge collapse, traffic diverted to the Baltimore Harbor and Fort McHenry tunnels. The Baltimore Harbor tunnel’s travel durations rose between five and 24%, while the Fort McHenry tunnel’s travel durations rose by four to 15%.
  • Long-haul and local traffic rerouted, mostly following non-tunnel routes via the Beltway and Baltimore City. Door-to-Door and Hub & Spoke vocations were mostly split evenly across tunnel and non-tunnel roads.
  • Prior to the incident, most heavy-duty CMVs were taking the Francis Scott Key bridge or the Fort McHenry tunnel. Multi-purpose vehicles were observed as choosing the Baltimore Harbor tunnel route most often.

Our expansion factors around CMVs helped us get a strong understanding of the Baltimore region’s overall travel, contextualize what we were seeing, and present the world with an accurate glimpse of the incident’s overall ramifications on traffic. Using real-world transportation data to navigate a crisis helps officials stabilize the grid as best as possible and administer more prescriptive aid.


How expansion factor freight data results in streamlined transportation

Expansion factors help Geotab ITS deduce overall CMV travel trends, which in turn help planners and lawmakers quantify the potential effects of their new transportation strategies. With end goals of advancing transportation sustainability, equity, safety or efficiency, these strategies are essential for streamlining regional transportation. Using the power of expansion factors, states are able to conduct a detailed traffic data analysis of new initiatives, helping them constantly iterate and improve their region’s transportation networks.

Learn more about Geotab ITS’ expansion factors and how they can help your state improve resiliency by speaking to one of our solutions experts today.



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