TRL has been researching congestion problems for over 30 years and has seen many solutions implemented, such as Controlled Motorways, ramp metering, driver information and junction re-design. Without these solutions, congestion would be significantly worse than it is now. However, continuing traffic growth means congestion continues to increase and new innovation is needed.
TRL is continually testing new ideas and initiatives to ease congestion and works closely with organisations such as the Highways Agency to assist them in tackling congestion on the UK road network.
Congestion is a delay due to traffic speeds being constrained by surrounding traffic. It's caused by too much traffic flow on our roads and not enough road space to accommodate the growing number of vehicles being driven on them. It affects everyone, yet everyone contributes - from parents on school runs to freight-forwarding and logistics businesses across Europe and personal/business travel. The number of vehicles on the road has grown drastically over the last 10 years and, with an increase in accidents and maintenance, doesn't help the congestion situation, particularly as it varies with:
- time of day
- day of the week
- seasons of the year
- school holidays
- weather conditions
- type of road or area.
What Can TRL Do?
Road space in the UK is limited and it's unlikely that we can increase road space to accommodate the growing demand for traffic. However, targeted additional infrastructure is being provided to ease blackspots and improve access in specific areas. We're working on ways of increasing the efficiency of the road network by enabling greater traffic flow within the existing network and managing demand.
We've been heavily involved in the research and testing of traffic management measures currently being piloted on the M42 in Birmingham. This work is being implemented in conjunction with our client the Highways Agency. These pilots include variable speed control, ramp metering, incident detection and response, hard-shoulder running and driver information. High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes are also being piloted on the M1.
Much of our work is encouraging travellers to find alternative means of transport. We work on researching and testing ideas that will improve our public transport system in terms of quality, price, frequency, accessibility, interchange and information. Possibilities include using IT to substitute for transport (e.g. telecommuting, teleshopping), travelling at different times of the day, encouraging flexible working and road pricing.
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