Congestion can quickly build on some of the UK’s more popular routes, especially during the dry summer months. On busy roads, so-called ‘phantom’ traffic jams can occur when, seemingly without reason, traffic comes to a standstill.
These jams can be caused by human factors – such as merging into traffic without signalling, distracted driving, poor driving habits and reaction times, or unnecessary braking. Once one driver hits the brakes, a chain reaction can occur as other drivers tap their brakes, causing the flow of traffic to grind to a halt.
Ford and researchers from Vanderbilt University have demonstrated that such hold-ups could be minimised with the widespread use of technology already offered on Ford vehicles such as the Transit van.
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) technology can automatically slow down and speed up to keep pace with the car in front without getting fatigued or distracted.
Torsten Wey, manager, Driver Assistance and Safety Technology, Ford of Europe said: “We encourage Ford owners who have Adaptive Cruise Control to use it during their summer travels in the hope this smart technology today can be that first step to help ease commutes.”
On a closed Ford test track, 36 drivers simulated normal highway traffic using ACC technology. Those drivers then drove the same course, but without the technology – meaning they had to manually brake and accelerate the vehicle.
Results showed vehicles using ACC reduced the impact of a braking event more than those vehicles without the activated technology. Even with just one in three vehicles using ACC, the test yielded similar traffic-busting benefits.
Ford currently offers Adaptive Cruise Control on 80 per cent of the company’s passenger and commercial vehicle line-up in Europe, and with the all-new Ford Focus recently introduced an enhanced version of the technology featuring Stop & Go, Speed Sign Recognition and Lane-Centring.
A previous EU-funded joint research project led from the Ford Research and Innovation Center, Aachen, Germany, concluded that vehicles equipped with ACC and Forward Collision Warning technology could help prevent or mitigate the effects of more than 5 per cent of motorway accidents resulting in injuries; save drivers more than 3 million hours per year stuck in traffic; and reduce passenger car fuel consumption by 3 per cent.