Developments in road traffic management – carrots & sticks?
There has been much news in recent weeks of developments in the safety & management on our roads. Some of the measures featured enforce the rules punishing those who break the rules. Others are aimed at influencing our behaviour for the better. Our question is which measures are likely to be successful?
The government last week confirmed hard shoulder running projects for the M25. How will these help to improve our road journeys? How will they improve motorway safety? Our work on the M42 pilot trial suggested that hard shoulder running can be operated safely opening opportunities to reduce congestion, reducing the disruption from accidents and helping those drivers who have broken down or are involved in an accident to remain safe.
In the context of government spending cuts what can drivers do themselves to improve safety? How can technology help and even have side benefits such as getting a better rate of mpg.
There are plenty of challenges for the driver such as keeping alert whilst driving, judging distances, judging what other drivers intend to do. We are now seeing more technology enter the car to try and help – sat navs to help navigation but now also providing things like congestion information and speed camera detection. There are other systems emerging like Foot-lite (http://www.foot-lite.net).which tries to provide advice and information on eco-driving; or manufacturers like BMW producing cars that start to anticpate accidents about to happen and respond.
There was news last week of the police getting their own lorry to be able to see into other lorry cabs to see drivers who are using mobile phones as well as to raise awareness of the blind spot in lorries that cause accidents with cyclists.
We’ve also seen the news of the new ASSET speed camera that is intended to be fitted in vehicles used by traffic police to:
- measure speed
- film inside a vehicle and see if the driver is wearing a seatbelt
- read number plates to instantly recognise cars without insurance
- record tax disks
- monitor distances between vehicles for detecting tailgaters
It will be interesting to see if these new technologies for inforcement have any influence over driver behaviour and compliance – especially when compared with some of the existing technologies like the GATSO cameras. Also, will we see any of the perhaps unintended consequences we saw with speed cameras such as excessive breaking when they were spotted by the driver?
There are a whole host of interesting human factors applied research issues to be explored!