What are the parts of a smart motorway?
A smart motorway is fitted with a network of detection equipment (radars, loops and CCTV cameras) and electronic signs that are programmed to respond automatically to manage the flow of traffic. As the volume of traffic increases, the smart motorway automatically adjusts the speed limit to reduce congestion and get as many vehicles as possible through the area. They are used effectively around the world as transport agencies seek to improve people’s journeys while getting the most out of existing road corridors.
There are three important parts of a smart motorway:
- smart technologies such as sensors, cameras, message signs, speed and lane control signals, and automated enforcement systems
- smart monitoring and management
- smart drivers.
When all the parts come together, the stop/start nature of congestion is reduced, traffic moves more smoothly, more vehicles get through a section of road and everyone arrives at their destination sooner and more safely.
How do the smarts work?
Smart motorways reduce congestion by carefully controlling the flow of vehicles. The most critical time when the system can influence the severity of congestion is as the traffic volume begins to build, that is before the road becomes congested.
Detectors under the road and radars mounted on lighting poles and gantries count the number of vehicles in each lane, as well as the speed they’re travelling.
The smart system calculates the rate at which the road is becoming congested, factors in what is likely to happen based on traffic records that are continually updated and monitored, and automatically adjusts the speed limit to pace the traffic and delay queues being formed.
Watch this video to see how pacing traffic flow gets more vehicles through.