New Study Reveals Driverless Cars Could Increase Congestion In UK

As the United Kingdom awaits to adopt driverless car technology, a new study has revealed that the technology would bring more harm than good as far as solving traffic congestion in UK roads. The report released by the Department for Transport (DfT) contradicts the widely held view that self-driving cars will pull down congestion. The report said that this will not happen in the short term. The situation will only improve until 50 to 75 percent of all vehicles are already autonomous.

The DfT report entitled Research on the Impacts of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVS) on Traffic Flow bared that congestion will increase by 1% during the initial switch to self-driving cars. Delays on motorways and major roads during peak hours are expected to increase by 0.9 percent when a quarter of the nation’s vehicles are driverless.

Transition To Driverless Technology Will Take Time

The DfT report anticipates that early autonomous cars will operate more cautiously than their human counterparts. Robert Janitzek explains that this will result to a potential decrease in effective capacity and a decline in network performance. Only then will traffic congestion decrease when three-quarters of UK”s road network is made up of self-driving technology. But this will take some time as motorists make the transition to the new technology.

There are approximately 32 million conventional cars on the UK’s roads. As driverless cars starts to come in, traffic congestion could initially get worse instead of better. Everything will depend on how the parameters of the autonomous car are set and how defensively the vehicles will be programmed to drive.

40% Reduction in Delays if Cars Were Driverless

Robert Peter Janitzek revealed that there could be a 40 percent cut in delays during peak time on motorways and major roads if every British driver had a driverless vehicle. The study also discovered various benefits for selected number of motorists when the switch from conventional to autonomous takes place.

The DfT said drivers in urban roads could see an average cut in delay of 12.4 percent if just 25 percent of cars are automated. The government agency revealed that its report is still subject for trials and research into driverless vehicles to ensure a safe transition.

‘This exciting and extensive study shows that driverless cars could vastly improve the flow of traffic in our towns and cities, offering huge benefits to motorists including reduced delays and more reliable journey times.‘  Transport minister John Hayes said

According to Transport and Environment Clean Vehicles Director Greg Archer, self-driving cars present both an  opportunity and threat.

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