Road Network Operations
& Intelligent Transport Systems
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Regulatory Framework

In addition to understanding the technical and operational requirements for ITS, an appreciation of the legal and regulatory framework in which deployments take place, is essential for ITS professionals and the organisations for which they work. The regulatory framework can be considered in two ways: legal requirements and their enforcement. (See Legal and Regulatory and Policing/Enforcement)

Legal Framework

ITS deployments require coordination between diverse agencies from public and private sectors to provide transport services. Stakeholders must be institutionally prepared to make organisational agreements on their respective roles and responsibilities in providing any ITS service. 

Initially, stakeholders can develop voluntary agreements and progress to Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) on their respective roles and responsibilities in providing one or more ITS services. The following steps can be followed in developing MOUs – and an ITS architecture (where one exists) can help facilitate their achievement (See  ITS Architecture):

  • identify the nature of cooperation needed to deliver the required ITS services
  • identify the information flows and operational links that will be required
  • identify the detailed specifications necessary for inter-institution coordination
  • develop an MOU between the institutions based on the specifications


One example of a MOU is between the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District 2 ITS Office and the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) on communication protocols between responding agencies involved in traffic incident management.

The MOU identified specific roles and responsibilities for personnel of the FDOT and FHP on incident response and scene management. An MOU can be formalised into a legal contractual agreement. It is likely that no two stakeholders will have the same set of requirements – since each has different needs and resources. The details of roles and responsibilities can be specified in a formal contractual agreement. This means that each stakeholder is answerable to minimum performance standards – and legal action can be taken if these standards are not met.

Enforcement Framework

An enforcement framework is necessary to support legislation on ITS operations. Enforcement mechanisms must be in place to detect and penalise unlawful or unauthorised operations. Many ITS applications – such as electronic payment high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, high occupancy vehicle operations, and red light running enforcement at traffic signals – require camera based automatic enforcement systems. Automatic enforcement includes the following processes:

  • violation detection
  • detection of vehicle suspected of a violation
  • identification of, and contact with, the owner of the vehicle

Automatic enforcement strategies vary from country to country, depending on detection technology, institutional policies, traffic related legislation, and vehicle data availability. Although automatic enforcement systems are technically feasible, many non-technical issues must be addressed before their widespread deployment. These include privacy, legal compliance, and public acceptance. If addressed successfully, automated enforcement can provide positive benefits for toll collection, traffic operations, and safety.

A prerequisite for efficient automated vehicle enforcement systems is the availability of a centralised register of vehicles and their owners at a national level. If the register is not centralised, the process of identifying vehicles and drivers from outside the jurisdiction where the infringement takes place, is extremely laborious. It is very difficult for countries to routinely follow up infringements by foreign vehicles – unless neighbouring countries have mutual agreements in place.

One of the reasons for the relatively widespread use of automated enforcement technologies is the active involvement of industry and suppliers of equipment. The private sector has often offered to cancel many of the deployment costs in return for receiving a percentage of revenues gained from the ticketing process. This model has facilitated rapid deployment but needs to be considered carefully by road operators to ensure that authorised deployments keep safety considerations at the forefront and are sensitive to user needs and public perceptions.

Reference sources

Sperling and Claussen, Motorizing the Developing World (Accessed on December 12th, 2013)

Chowdhury, M. and Sadek, A., Fundamentals on Intelligent Transportation Systems Planning, Artech House, Boston, MA, 2003.