Employing an effective learning process is a critical topic in designing a fuzzy neural network, especially when expert knowledge is not available. This paper presents a genetic algorithm (GA) based learning approach for a specific type of fuzzy neural network. The proposed learning approach consists of three stages. In the first stage the membership functions of both input and output variables are initialized by determining their centers and widths using a self-organizing algorithm. The second stage employs the proposed GA based learning algorithm to identify the fuzzy rules while the final stage tunes the derived structure and parameters using a back-propagation learning algorithm. The capabilities of the proposed GA-based learning approach are evaluated using a well-examined benchmark example and its effectiveness is analyzed by means of a comparative study with other approaches. The usefulness of the proposed GA-based learning approach is also illustrated in a practical case study where it is used to predict the performance of road traffic control actions. Results from the benchmarking exercise and case study effectively demonstrate the ability of the proposed three stages learning approach to identify relevant fuzzy rules from a training data set with a higher prediction accuracy than alternative approaches.