Across the globe, a number of traffic management technologies are emerging with the aim of reducing congestion, speeding and accidents. looks at several recent developments.

Speed Indicator Display (SID)

Dubbed the ‘Smiley SID’, this portable sign detects a vehicle’s speed then displays it so the driver can see. Travelling under the speed limit produces a ‘smile’; exceeding the speed limit a ‘frown’. The detector has a range of up to 120m, a battery life of three to six days and can operate in extreme temperatures.

The sign has been deployed across the UK at locations with 20, 30 or 40mph speed limits and where there is a perceived speeding problem. The SID records data that local councils can study and, if deemed appropriate, act on. Authorities can, for example, install permanent speed-detection equipment to reduce both speeding and accidents.

Wavetronix SmartSensor HD

The Wavetronix SmartSensor HD can measure a variety of traffic data, including volume, individual vehicle speed, average speed, lane occupancy and vehicle classification.

The device both gathers and stores data, and interacts with existing devices, making it a viable alternative to loops for traffic detection.

Following successful tests, the Danish National Road Administration entered into a framework agreement for the SmartSensor HD in 2009, which has helped the country gather accurate data for the improvement of road traffic systems.

Variable message signs

“Using telecommunications and roadside billboards, Sitraffic provides updated information.”

Located at key points across the UK, variable message signs help the Highways Agency to manage the motorway network by providing advance warning to drivers of accidents and emergencies as well as road works and lane closures.

Both messages and pictograms can be delivered over the signs with the view of delivering clear and concise information to ease congestion – drivers can navigate around trouble spots – and reduce the likelihood of further accidents.

As well as the 2,800 operating across motorways in the UK, the signs have been adopted across the world.

Dynamic road marking

Dynamic road marking technology replicates white lines to actively adapt road layout in response to varying traffic conditions, with the result of increasing road capacity and reducing congestion in peak hours.

Still in the planning and evaluation stage, the potential applications could include the extension and utilisation of the hard shoulder during peak hours and the creation of dynamic junctions to highlight a path through a roundabout, increasing traffic flow.

Also feasible could be the implementation of tidal flow systems, allowing lanes to be divided and changed to cater for heavier traffic flow in one direction if there is little traffic heading the other way.

Sitraffic Motion

Developed by Siemens, the adaptive traffic management system integrates collected information on parking conditions, urban traffic, construction sites and special events that have a detrimental affect on traffic.

Sitraffic uses the data to provide updated information for traffic planners and travellers through telecommunications and roadside billboards. The system determines the number of vehicles moving along roads and alters the duration of any given signal’s red-green phases every 15-20 minutes in order to ease the flow of traffic, ensuring the highest possible series of green lights on roads.

Used in Muenstar, Germany, the systems has delivered a 30% improvement in traffic flow, fewer stops and accidents as well as a reduction in commuter traffic jams.