The Highways Agency is trialling a system to add commercially available traffic data to its existing sources to monitor how well traffic is flowing on England’s motorways and strategic roads. Similar data sources are already used by satellite navigation devices, smartphones, and applications like Google maps.
Better real-time data will allow Highways Agency staff to respond more quickly to incidents and identify delays and communicate them to drivers to they can take alternative routes if necessary.
On the M25 and its feeder routes a different technology has been successfully trialled to measure journey times. Improving reliability is a Highways Agency priority and this new system, which uses anonymous location data from mobile devices, provides accurate data which will inform the planning of future measures to reduce congestion.
Simon Sheldon-Wilson, Highways Agency Traffic Management Director, said:
“We are committed to reducing congestion and improving journey time reliability on the strategic road network. These new sources of data will strengthen the information we receive about traffic conditions.
“At the moment control rooms collect information from cameras and a vast number of sensors built into the road surface. But if an incident happens out of camera shot or if the traffic does not queue back to one of the sensor locations, we don’t have a full picture of the problem and there can be delays responding.
“This new approach would allow us to work with GPS data which will give us the most accurate and comprehensive data set to manage traffic flow and clear up incidents as quickly as possible.
“The information used for the M25 scheme is historic, not immediate, but will help us develop improvements targeted to reduce congestion and improve reliability.”
In both cases before any information is received by the Highways Agency it is processed to ensure the anonymity of road users. No individual person, vehicle or device, can be identified as only data relating to traffic levels on the road is provided.
The scheme to improve the quality of information provided to drivers uses data that comes mostly from vehicle tracking devices installed by fleet operators, and a proportion from mobile sat-nav type devices, including smartphone traffic applications where the user has opted in to making their anonymous location data available.
The M25 scheme uses data that is routinely collected by mobile network operators to monitor signal strengths and network coverage.
Notes to Editors
The Highways Agency is an executive agency of the Department for Transport. We manage, maintain and improve England’s motorways and other strategic roads on behalf of the Secretary of State.
The routes to benefit from the M25 scheme will include the M25; the A20 between Swanley and the M20 junction 3; the A3 between Ripley and Kingston; the M4 between junctions 1 and 5; the M1 between junctions 1 and 7; and the M11 between junctions 4 and 6. The scheme is compliant with the Data Protection Act.
Real-time traffic information for England’s motorways and other strategic roads is available:
From the web at www.highways.gov.uk/traffic or www.highways.gov.uk/mobile if using a phone or mobile device.
By phone from the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000 at any time. (Calls to 0300 numbers will cost no more than 5p per minute from a standard BT residential landline. Call charges from other landlines and mobile networks may vary, but will be no more than a standard geographic call and will be included in all inclusive minutes and discount schemes). Make sure it’s safe and legal before you call. Before using any mobile, find a safe place to park. Never stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway except in an emergency.
On an iPhone app which will automatically select the region you are in. Free to download from the iTunes store or search for Highways Agency on your device.
From Twitter – there are eight feeds with live traffic information provided by region. For the full index visit www.highways.gov.uk/twitter.