Vehicle Classification distinguishes vehicles by type such as car or truck based on features like weight, number of axles, height or purpose. Vehicle classifications vary by country. We explain the differences between FHWA (US), COBA (UK), TLS 8+1 (Germany) and NorSIKT (Sweden, Denmark, Island, Finland and Norway) vehicle classification.
COBA Vehicle Classification (UK)
COBA (COst Benefit Analysis) defines 5 different vehicle categories.
- Cars (CARS) including taxis, estate cars, ‘people carriers’ and other passenger vehicles (for example, minibuses and camper vans) with a gross vehicle weight of less than 3.5 tonnes, normally ones which can accommodate not more than 15 seats. Three-wheeled cars, motor invalid carriages, Land Rovers, Range Rovers and Jeeps and smaller ambulances are included. Cars towing caravans or trailers are counted as one vehicle unless included as a separate class (see User Specified Category below).
- Light Goods Vehicles (LGV) Includes all goods vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight (goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes have sideguards fitted between axles), including those towing a trailer or caravan. This includes all car delivery vans and those of the next larger carrying capacity such as transit vans. Included here are small pickup vans, three-wheeled goods vehicles, milk floats and pedestrian controlled motor vehicles. Most of this group are delivery vans of one type or another.
- Other Goods Vehicles:
(OGV 1) Includes all rigid vehicles over 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight with two or three axles Includes larger ambulances, tractors (without trailers), road rollers for tarmac pressing, box vans and similar large vans. A two or three axle motor tractive unit without a trailer is also included.
(OGV 2) Includes all rigid vehicles with four or more axles and all articulated vehicles. Also included in this class are OGV1 goods vehicles towing a caravan or trailer.
- Buses and Coaches (PSV) Includes all public service vehicles and works buses with a gross vehicle weight of 3.5 tonnes or more, usually vehicles with more than 16 seats;
FHWA Vehicle Classification (US)
FHWA defines 13 vehicle categories.
- Motorcycles – All two or three-wheeled motorized vehicles. Typical vehicles in this category have saddle type seats and are steered by handlebars rather than steering wheels. This category includes motorcycles, motor scooters, mopeds, motor-powered bicycles, and three-wheel motorcycles.
- Passenger Cars – All sedans, coupes, and station wagons manufactured primarily for the purpose of carrying passengers and including those passenger cars pulling recreational or other light trailers.
- Other Two-Axle, Four-Tire Single Unit Vehicles – All two-axle, four-tire, vehicles, other than passenger cars. Included in this classification are pickups, panels, vans, and other vehicles such as campers, motor homes, ambulances, hearses, carryalls, and minibuses. Other two-axle, four-tire single-unit vehicles pulling recreational or other light trailers are included in this classification. Because automatic vehicle classifiers have difficulty distinguishing class 3 from class 2, these two classes may be combined into class 2.
- Buses – All vehicles manufactured as traditional passenger-carrying buses with two axles and six tires or three or more axles. This category includes only traditional buses (including school buses) functioning as passenger-carrying vehicles. Modified buses should be considered to be a truck and should be appropriately classified.
- Two-Axle, Six-Tire, Single-Unit Trucks – All vehicles on a single frame including trucks, camping and recreational vehicles, motor homes, etc., with two axles and dual rear wheels.
- Three-Axle Single-Unit Trucks – All vehicles on a single frame including trucks, camping and recreational vehicles, motor homes, etc., with three axles.
- Four or More Axle Single-Unit Trucks – All trucks on a single frame with four or more axles
- Four or Fewer Axle Single-Trailer Trucks – All vehicles with four or fewer axles consisting of two units, one of which is a tractor or straight truck power unit.
- Five-Axle Single-Trailer Trucks – All five-axle vehicles consisting of two units, one of which is a tractor or straight truck power unit.
- Six or More Axle Single-Trailer Trucks – All vehicles with six or more axles consisting of two units, one of which is a tractor or straight truck power unit.
- Five or Fewer Axle Multi-Trailer Trucks – All vehicles with five or fewer axles consisting of three or more units, one of which is a tractor or straight truck power unit.
- Six-Axle Multi-Trailer Trucks – All six-axle vehicles consisting of three or more units, one of which is a tractor or straight truck power unit
- Seven or More Axle Multi-Trailer Trucks – All vehicles with seven or more axles consisting of three or more units, one of which is a tractor or straight truck power unit.
In reporting information on trucks, the following criteria should be used:
- Truck tractor units traveling without a trailer will be considered single-unit trucks;
- A truck tractor unit pulling other such units in a saddle mount configuration will be considered one single-unit truck and will be defined only by the axles on the pulling unit;
- Vehicles are defined by the number of axles in contact with the road. Therefore, floating axles are counted only when in the down position; and
- The term "trailer" includes both semi- and full trailers.
- FHWA Traffic Management Guide
- FHWA Verification, Refinement, and Applicability of Long-Term Pavement Performance Vehicle Classification Rules
BAST TLS 8+1 Vehicle Classification (Germany)
BAST TLS 8+1 distinguishes 8 different vehicle types plus a separate vehicle class for vehicles which can not be classified by the detector into either of the categories.
SWISS 10 Vehicle Classification (Switzerland)
Swiss 10 defines the following vehicle classes:
Austroads Vehicle Classification (Australia)
The AUSTROADS Vehicle Classification System defines 12 vehicle categories.
- Austroads Vehicle Classification
- AUSTROADS vehicle classification system - Department for Infrastructure and Transport
NorSIKT Vehicle Classification (Sweden, Denmark, Island, Finland and Norway)
NorSIKT defines five different levels of vehicle classifications.
Automatic Vehicle Classification
Traffic can be automatically classified with the help of sensors or cameras. Popular options for automatic vehicle classification include:
- Pneumatic Tube Counters
- Inductive Loops
- Axle Counters
- Radar Sensors
- Lidar Sensors
- Thermal Cameras
- Security Cameras with Intelligent Video Analytics Software
The below video show how security cameras can be used for traffic classification. The software distinguishes between pedestrians, cyclists, motorcycles, cars, vans, busses, trucks and heavy trucks.