Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

EURAMP — Result In Brief

Project ID: 507645
Funded under: FP6-IST

The end of motorway queues in Europe

Tail-backs on a motorway access roads causes time delays, damage to the road as well as potentially dangerous conditions on the feeder road. A study by a European project has made considerable headway into reducing the time drivers have to wait to get on a motorway.
The end of motorway queues in Europe
Traffic waiting on a slip road to get onto a congested motorway causes many problems for the road infrastructure and the motorist. Degradation of the motorway, reduced safety, excessive pollution, not to mention frustration for the driver and delays are just some of the effects that can occur daily on a congested road.

Ramp metering is the most direct and effective way of solving the problem. Simply consisting of a traffic light with a signal controller, it regulates the flow of traffic entering the motorway. Ramp meters are installed to restrict the flow of traffic entering the motorway, storing it on the ramp - the entrance to the main road - hence its name. Another advantage is that this system can be used to break up large groups of cars getting onto the motorway.

With funding from the EU, the appropriately named Euramp project aimed to promote and harmonise ramp metering on Europe's motorways to improve safety and increase traffic flow efficiency. Five motorways, four in Europe and one in Tel Aviv were monitored. Project researchers also set up two virtual sites for simulations.

The results of the Euramp project showed that the use of ramp metering can achieve massive social benefits in terms of efficient travel for the public stripped of being late for work and feeling frustrated. Economically, excessive road damage can be avoided.

Different levels of electronic control showed that coordinated metering is better than any local metering system tested. However, the detrimental effects of ill-timed lights sounded a note of warning. As any driver knows, delays for cars accessing the main road can outweigh the gains for the vehicles already on the motorway. Coordination according to time of day, weather conditions and traffic flow is therefore crucial.

Safe and efficient transport is at the heart of any thriving economy. Improvement in road transport conditions will help to boost social and economic development as the EU continues to expand.

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