One thing I know for sure is that I don’t know everything. With a world as large as the one we live in, there is no way for us to know everything about it. We can only do our best to become an expert in our desired field or industry. Besides that, we’re going to be walking around ignorant to the majority of what goes on around us. For example, I know nothing about how buildings and infrastructure are imagined and built.

While I understand contractors put them together using blueprints, the “bones” of the project are a mystery to me. That’s’ why I was shocked to learn the purpose behind the black tubes strewn across American roads.

You may wonder if it was something a contractor forgot to take with them. Or if it is a hose used to transfer something from one side of the road to the other.

So if you’re in the dark about these black hoses as I am, a Google search can reveal a lot about these “pneumatic road tubes.” But let me save you the trouble. You will learn everything you need to know about these and what they’re supposed to do.

Government officials use the tubes to track how many cars drive down the road. You might see a single one. And other times you may see another one not far down the road from the other one. When you see double pneumatic road tubes, then you should know that the government wants to know if the road is predominantly servicing passenger cars of multi-axle vehicles like trucks and other massive transport vehicles.

When a car drives over a pneumatic tube, it releases a puff of air. A counting device keeps track of how many times this happens. Software stores the count and then the government uses it to track the American people and to better understand their driving habits. This is an example of Big Brother at work. They learn about the number of vehicles on a particular road as well as the speed people drive. Because they can measure speed by how fast the front wheels bump over the tube compared to the rear wheels, they can learn a lot about speed limits and what people do on those roads.

But while you might worry that these tubes are being used to simply track your driving behavior, they can serve a greater good in your local community.

According to the Federal Highway Administration: “Advantages of road tube sensors are a quick installation for (the) permanent and temporary recording of data and low power usage. Road tube sensors are usually low cost and simple to maintain. Sensor manufacturers often supply software packages to assist with data analysis.”

If you’re looking to game the system, you can drive over the tubes on the roads you want to be repaired. While it isn’t a guarantee, it only makes sense that your local officials will pay more attention and give more funding to busier roads.

In the video below from the city of Bloomington in Minnesota, you’ll learn how the government takes your driving history and uses it to their advantage. They try to use the data to turn it into useful changes for the public. Or do they have a more sinister motive?

Have you ever questioned what these black tubes were doing on your roads?