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2013-11-07 07:56

WOULDN'T IT BE NICE..." Traffic experts in The Netherlands are working on a system that could forever end freeway traffic jams - but need 1000 volunteers for experiments. Image: AFP

THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Researchers in the Netherlands will in 2014 test a GPS navigation system that claims to prevent the international curse of motorway traffic jams by telling drivers which lane to choose.

Tests will be carried out as early as April on a 75km stretch of motorway passing through the Netherlands, from Germany to Belgium, which is popular with truckers.

"Traffic jams can be caused by a line of trucks," Paul van Koningsbruggen from Dutch IT firm Technolution told AFP. "It's a chain reaction: when a car drives up behind a truck, it brakes, then the car behind brakes, this time a bit more, and so on, until a car some distance away has to almost come to a standstill, and that's when you get a traffic jam."


Researchers hope they can prevent traffic jams developing by letting drivers know, in time, that they should change lanes and drive at a certain speed. Dutch satnav equipment specialist TomTom and Delft University are also involved in the research.

"The idea is that around 1000 drivers take part in the tests," said TomTom's Peter Krootjes, "but we don't yet know when it will be a marketable product. That depends on the success of the tests."

Volunteers taking part in the project will download a smartphone app; other volunteers' cars will be equipped with sensors and cameras to get more data but the system will only work if at least 30 to 40% of drivers on a certain stretch of motorway are using it.

"If only one driver changes lane or speed, that's not going to prevent a traffic jam forming," Koningsbruggen said. Krootjes added: "It seems ambitious to say the system will mean the end of traffic jams but what's for sure is that a driver well informed about  traffic will get home much more quickly."
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