The concept is one of five shortlisted entries in a competition hosted by the National Roads Commission (NIC), Highways England and Innovative UK. The “Smart Traffic Lights” are designed to put an end to stop and go driving by advising road users what speed they need to travel at in order to arrive at the next set of lights as they turn green. The traffic lights require three components to function which are as follows:
- Traffic lights
- Queue detectors buried in the road and/or cameras
- Central control system
The queue detectors tell the control system the state of traffic flow on all the main roads within a city. The system in turn controls the lights to maintain a free flow of traffic within the city. The scheme is set to be tested using a simulation model of the A59 in York.
The implementation of “Smart Traffic Lights” could start within a year, due to it not requiring lengthy consultation, land purchases or access agreements. It is anticipated that the Smart Traffic Lights will produce many beneficial outputs such as:
- Reduce everyday congestion by smoothing traffic flows and prioritising traffic in response to demand in real time.
- Reduce pollution throughout the city: stop-start driving is inefficient and polluting.
- Give priority to buses approaching junctions, phasing lights to give traffic flowing with buses a ‘green wave’ through the city.
- Enable a much more effective response to traffic incidents, the system can be pre-programmed to handle a sudden increase in traffic.