New algorithms may help merging traffic

May 24, 2006

A U.S. study suggests traffic metering systems using new algorithms could reduce the seriousness mishaps occurring near freeway on-ramps.

Metering systems try to improve traffic flow by restricting how many cars enter the highway each minute based on how many cars are already there.

University of Michigan Adjunct Professor Craig Davis says there are two basic types of traffic congestion: gridlock, in which cars stop, and synchronous congestion, in which two or more lanes of traffic all slow to the same speed. Synchronous flow occurs often near on-ramps, when cars don't give one another enough room to merge, or when too many cars are on the road.

Metering systems use computer algorithms to try to predict when a jam may occur, typically based on occupancy. Davis, however, based his algorithm on the throughput and rate at which vehicles are merging, not on highway occupancy. He found traffic jams occur when throughput exceeds about 1,900 cars per hour per lane; after that capacity drops by 10 percent or more.

Davis says simple politeness is always helpful, however, letting people merge is useful only if you don't slow down too much to do so.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia to trial new jet tracking system

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Is iron rain the reason why Earth and the moon are so different?

7 minutes ago

New experiments show that the asteroids that slammed into Earth and the moon more than 4 billion years ago were vaporised into a mist of iron. The findings, published in Nature Geoscience, suggest that the iron mist thrown up from the high ve ...

We must defend science if we want a prosperous future

32 minutes ago

Today's Australians are, by far, the best educated cohort in our history –- on paper, anyway -– but this is not reflected in the quality of our political discourse. We appear to be lacking in courage, ...

Geometry's least-packable shapes

34 minutes ago

If you've ever struggled to pack a bunch of suitcases into the trunk of your car, you've got some idea of a basic problem in materials science: if you throw a bunch of atoms or molecules together, how do ...

Few friends for shy kangaroos

37 minutes ago

Kangaroo social networks could provide insight into the evolution of human personality differences.

Recommended for you

Can we track the world's nuclear weapons?

22 minutes ago

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has unveiled an interactive infographic that tracks the number and history of nuclear weapons in the nine nuclear weapon states: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, C ...

Emerging world drives cheap smartphone boom

56 minutes ago

Phone and Internet firms are rolling out cheaper handsets and may turn to hot-air balloons to boost network coverage in developing countries, where sales of smartphones are booming.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.