ACC helps eliminate phantom traffic

As schools close for the summer, and people take to the roads to begin their summer vacations, congestion can quickly build on some of the UK’s more popular routes. On busy roads so called ‘phantom’ traffic jams can occur, when, seemingly without reason, traffic comes to a standstill.

These frustrating jams are easily 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, a private research university in Tennessee, U.S., have demonstrated that such hold-ups could be minimised with widespread use of technology already offered on Ford vehicles from the Fiesta small car to 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.

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.

The results: 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.