Congestion Control Technology

20/12/2011

A new report released by the Automotive Council and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills suggests that the UK’s existing road network can be used and managed more effectively to reduce congestion. The report places particular emphasis on the suggestion that congestion can be particularly eased during peak times and can be implemented without the need for compulsory road pricing.

The report titled ‘Intelligent Mobility – a national need?’ requests greater teamwork between government, car manufacturers, the logistics sector and technology companies to use current road capacity to its full potential.

John Miles, chairman of the Intelligent Mobility working group, said “We can’t keep building more roads, but we can get more traffic down the same roads.”

John Miles believes the preferred options are to improve voluntary systems that advise drivers of the least congested routes. However, the take up of satellite navigation systems equipped with this facility among car drivers has proved disappointing so far.

In addition, Miles believes that dynamic road pricing might be one element, and could be structured so a typical road user pays no more than the existing annual VED. However, he admits this is not part of current government thinking.

“The logistics industry is already leading the field in adopting sophisticated systems to help it avoid congestion because it sees real financial benefits,” Miles says. “Our aim is to get them more widely adopted in the next decade.”

Intelligent mobility will involve vehicles communicating with each other and the road network to direct drivers away from congested routes. It could involve satellite tracking of congestion hotspots as well as existing camera systems and in- car systems that transmit as well as receive data from cloud-based computers.

“Compulsion is not the answer – it will only work if people see a benefit,” he says. “Without this, congestion will go on getting worse but the approach has to be bottom up, not top down.”

The working group is planning an Intelligent Mobility summit next April to begin the cross-industry collaboration needed to make the plan a reality.