The real effect of mixing school and commercial traffic in peak hour
By Mike Hanlon
December 11, 2006
December 12, 2006 Anyone who has ever endured the daily commute knows that school holidays are a Godsend because morning peak hour commute times drop dramatically - without parents driving children, school holiday traffic is reduced by roughly 10 per cent. Now UK-based Trafficmaster is beginning to use its wireless automotive networks to measure the real effects in travelling time with and without school traffic and the results are remarkable. Increased congestion in the mornings causes average journey times on some roads to triple in length, with the worst impact measured on the southbound A629 near Bradford, West Yorkshire. The average morning rush-hour journey (08.30-09.15) on this busy route during the school holidays takes just 11 minutes, but in term time this figure rises to almost half an hour – for a stretch of road only two miles long. Is this grounds to consider staggering either school or business hours to reduce the peak traffic periods?
UK-wide analysis shows this type of congestion occurs only briefly and is more serious during the morning rush, which brings together school, office and retail commuting. However, in this time, it frequently doubles journey times on short sections of major and local roads, creating significant delays throughout the affected areas.
Other affected areas include the eastbound A40 near Cheltenham (133% journey time increase in term time), the northbound A339 in Newbury (131% increase) and the eastbound A428 in Bedford (120% increase).
Philip Hale, spokesman for Trafficmaster, said: “Overall, four fifths of all our travel in Britain is by car, with average journeys being just six miles. School holidays reduce traffic on our roads by approximately 10 per cent, from a combination of parents taking holidays and not driving their children to school, but the effects vary widely.
“It’s critical for other drivers to understand the local effects of this and avoid congested areas where possible, so as not to add to the problem. Knowing when and how your route will be affected and what alternatives there are could also save you significant time, money and frustration from getting caught in jams,” he concluded.
Trafficmaster specialises in intelligent driving services, offering advanced satellite navigation with real time traffic data, stolen vehicle tracking, speed camera warning and emergency call, delivered to individual vehicles by its Bedfordshire-based control centre.
Trafficmaster also provides real-time traffic information and traffic incident data through a network of over 7,500 roadside sensors, covering 8,000 miles of UK roads. The company has monitored traffic across the country to compare average term-time journeys with those during holiday periods.
Trafficmaster’s leading product is Smartnav, an easy to use, technologically advanced, satellite navigation system that guides you around the jams. Smartnav uses Trafficmaster’s unique live, incident, historic and predictive traffic data to calculate the optimum route at the start of your journey and will continue to monitor the route for delays until you reach your destination. The Smartnav service also incorporates 24-hour personal assistant support, emergency and breakdown service, nationwide safety camera alerts and GPS stolen vehicle tracking.
Traffic information is derived from a state-of-the-art network of nationwide sensors and transmitters that gather and distribute traffic data of over 8,000 miles of motorway and trunk routes. Designed, developed and patented by Trafficmaster, the system disseminates the gathered data at the company's headquarters at Cranfield in Bedfordshire, and is delivered to the customer through a number of screen or speech-based receivers. These include a variety of in-car products and services that include Smartnav, Trafficmaster Monitor, YQ_, Oracle and Freeway units. Traffic information from Trafficmaster can also be obtained by phoning the 1740 service, which is run in partnership with the RAC and the UK’s main mobile phone operators. You can also log onto www.trafficmaster.net, which provides live traffic information on the PC at home or in the office.
Trafficmaster also offers a Radio Data System -Traffic Message Channel (RDS TMC) service. This provides real time traffic data to other aftermarket and automotive manufacturer own satellite navigation systems.