Traffic jams are complex phenomena. The fact there are whole academic theories on traffic congestion shows this. And while traffic jams can leave both driver and passenger crying with boredom, they can be life-threatening too.
In Boris Kerner’s three phase traffic theory, the third phase is known as the wide moving jam and it can be especially dangerous. In this situation, a vehicle travelling at a normal speed along a motorway can suddenly come across a tail-back of cars directly up ahead that have been reduced to a standstill. The good news is that HERE has created a warning system for exactly this type of hazard.
Johannes Glossner, HERE Traffic European Marketing Manager, says, “The tail ends of these jams usually come out of nowhere and are difficult to foresee. It is not like a case where there is a bottleneck and the driver expects to slow down soon, it can just suddenly occur and this is why we think it important to forewarn the passenger with an alert so they have time to brake safely.”
HERE uses its traffic probe data to inform the driver if they are approaching a tail end of a jam in good time so they can begin to reduce their speed and avoid an accident.
Johannes says, “Probe data is live data and our service is updated every minute so we have very precise information to detect a jam and the exact position of the current tail end to send other drivers a warning about it.”
Interestingly, this comes at a time when the EU commission is issuing directives to member states on the provision of traffic information for drivers in an attempt to improve safety.
Johannes says, “Based on the European wide ITS (intelligent telematic systems) we have directives from the EU commission to all member states about making certain traffic-relevant information available in vehicles. And while a tail-end warning is not yet mandatory, it shows we are ahead of the curve when it comes to providing traffic-based safety information for drivers.”
The warning system could manifest itself in several ways, such as a warning light on the dashboard or an audible alert so that the driver can react in good time. But while this system is for the driver, this data could also be used by semi-autonomous and fully-autonomous vehicles of the future to provide a safe and smooth ride.