What’s used to reduce traffic bunching on a motorway?

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A: Variable speed limits

B: Contraflow systems

C: National speed limits

D: Lane closures

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Congestion can be reduced by keeping traffic at a constant speed. At busy times, maximum speed limits are displayed on overhead gantries. These can be varied quickly, depending on the amount of traffic. By keeping to a constant speed on busy sections of motorway, overall journey times are normally improved.

Traffic bunching and variable speed limits

In an Exeter University study reported in the Independent:

They discovered that under certain conditions, when cars are bunched in a specific density and travelling at a specific speed, a single driver over-reacting can set off a braking shockwave that will build momentum and travel back along a motorway for miles.

Variable speed limits, which can be controlled manually or automatically, can help reduce this type of effect which can be quite significant. Below is a very short video in which scientists recreate traffic bunching on a circular road.

 

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