‘More efficient’: New smart traffic lights to reduce congestion and make roads safer

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Ford has trialled connected traffic light tech that could automatically go green to offer clearer routes for ambulances, fire engines and police vehicles. The trial is part of a major project to explore the benefits of bringing together automated and connected vehicles with networked infrastructure.

They could also help reduce the risk of an accident caused by first responders driving through red lights. 

In 2017, ambulances in London were involved in six accidents per day and 2,265 in the year.

“Whether it’s a fire engine attending a blaze or an ambulance that is en route to an accident, the last thing anyone wants is for these drivers to be caught up among other vehicles waiting for the lights to change,” said Martin Sommer, research engineer, Automated Driving Europe, Ford of Europe.

Experts believe that survival rates for road accident victims can be improved by as much as 40 percent if they receive treatment just four minutes more quickly.

It is hoped the new trial will also see congestion being reduced with the traffic lights sending the red-green timing information to approaching vehicles.

The trial was part of a broader project that involved testing automated and connected vehicles and networked infrastructure in highway, urban and rural areas.

Ford says this research exemplifies its commitment to using connectivity and innovation to improve the driving experience.

Michael Reinartz, Director of Consumer Services and Innovation at Vodafone Germany, praised the trial, saying it would help save lives.

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He said: “Exchanging data between cars, emergency vehicles and traffic lights in real time using the latest mobile phone technology makes road traffic safer and more efficient.

“Intelligent traffic light control helps save lives when every second counts and also reduces unnecessary waiting times and cuts CO2 emissions.”

Ford first trialled the technology with a road with eight consecutive traffic lights in Aachen, Germany, and two stretches with three consecutive traffic lights just outside the city, all set up by the project’s partners.

The Ford Kuga Plug-In Hybrid test vehicle was equipped with on-board units, designed for communication with the infrastructure and rapid control prototyping hardware.

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