The Causes of Traffic Congestion in Cities and Their Solutions
- A huge contributor to environmental pollution and constant trouble for individuals, traffic jams are a modern-day nuisance. Traffic jams cost several billion euros per year because employees are stuck in the tie-ups instead of being productive, and goods are on the road instead of on the shelf.
What causes traffic congestion?
The key factors behind traffic congestion include road works, accidents, traffic overload on the same route, and large numbers of pedestrians holding up the vehicles. Although all these factors can be managed relatively easily, surprisingly not a lot of solutions have been provided thus far.
Limitations of an isolated individual road user
- All road users drive their vehicles in a way optimized for themselves.
- They cannot see how they influence the traffic around them.
The behavior of individuals must be analyzed and catered for in traffic planning and control to optimize the flow of traffic. Therefore, traffic must be regulated in a pre-emptive and distributed manner by employing a complete overview of the traffic situation, which creates a need for smart infrastructure.
What is Smart Infrastructure?
Smart infrastructure describes the concept of equipping the existing road infrastructure with technology, such as GPS, cameras, and sensors, to collect data through constant traffic monitoring. They are “cyber-physical systems” that make decisions regarding urban challenges easier through data and feedback collected through constant monitoring.
Gaining a complete overview of traffic with GPS, cameras, and sensors
- Provides valuable data by tracking the movements of road users.
- Helpful in reporting traffic jams reliably.
- Not able to take pedestrians and cyclists into account.
- Record color images.
- Good in object recognition and classification.
- Does not provide the same quality when used in darkness or bad weather.
- Only captures the data in 2D, no depth perception.
- Not apt for privacy protection when recording.
- Mainly used for speed monitoring but could also be used for traffic surveillance.
- Not able to classify objects like pedestrians and cyclists due to low resolution.
- Laser-based LiDAR sensors provide detailed and reliable 3D information that makes it easy to distinguish between different road users, anonymously.
- Can reliably collect information in difficult weather and lighting conditions e.g, darkness, dust, or fog.
- Records speed to analyze traffic flow or the causes of traffic jams.
- Construct maps for traffic prediction and suggests alternate routes.
- LiDAR sensors, paired with cameras, can be utilized for traffic monitoring as cameras can aid in capturing colored images, whereas LiDAR can assess and provide feedback in real-time.
- Does not detect color
How do Autonomous vehicles help decrease traffic jams?
Autonomous vehicles use sensors to collect and transmit real-time data to the smart infrastructure and detect any obstacles and “near-crash” situations in their surroundings. This data can also be used to connect AVs and help them communicate with each other, thus improving coordination and driving efficiency. AVs can predict the behavior of not only vehicles but also of unsuspected intruders like pedestrians and animals. This can hugely help in decreasing traffic-related accidents and thus congestion.
Traffic information from a smart infrastructure enables practical measures such as:
- Implementation of smart traffic lights
- Adaptation of speed limits
- Displaying traffic jam warnings
- Showing redirection recommendations
- Identification and reconstruction of hazardous locations
- Dynamic adaptation of schedules and routes to the traffic
The practical implementation of smart infrastructure guarantees a safer and more comfortable traveling experience while promising a productive metropolitan life.
- Urban planning must keep the goal of unhindered traffic flow as the top-most priority. Road planning and traffic management must be people-centric and give as much focus on alternate forms of travel as cars. That would include making pedestrian crossings safer, reducing turning accidents, offering dedicated tracks for cyclists, creating bus lanes, and so on. This, in combination with sensor-based smart infrastructure and autonomous vehicles, can help reduce the pressing problem of traffic congestion.
30 April 2023 Year.