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Driverless vehicles could reduce delays by more than 40%

Date: 10 January 2017   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

Autonomous vehicles could reduce traffic delays by more than 40%, new data has suggested.

A project run by the Department for Transport using computer software estimated that on major roads in peak traffic periods where all vehicles are autonomous, journey times could be reduced by more than 11% and delays could be cut by more than 40%.

Meanwhile, on urban roads with what the DfT called low levels of automated vehicle traffic, the modelling suggested a 12% improvement in delays and a 21% cut in journey times.

The DfT simulated urban roads and a 12.4-mile motorway section, with the study examining different scenarios including the level of automation, number of vehicles equipped with the technology and differing driving styles.

It found that driverless vehicles offer major time-saving benefits when their numbers outweigh traditional vehicles, and the DfT said the results of the modelling paves the way for further trials "to help ensure the transition to driverless or automated vehicles is safe and beneficial for all".

"This exciting and extensive study shows that driverless cars could vastly improve the flow of traffic in our towns and cities, offering huge benefits to motorists including reduced delays and more reliable journey times," said transport minister John Hayes. "Driverless cars are just one example of cutting-edge technology which could transform the way in which we travel in the future, particularly in providing new opportunities for those with reduced mobility. This study reinforces our belief that these technologies offer major benefits and this Government will support their research."

The RAC welcomed the research, but said the Government should do more to promote driverless vehicles to motorists, citing research that 58% of drivers believe that autonomous vehicles will outnumber conventional ones by 2050.

"Reports like this make a strong case for the Government's emphasis on making the UK a leader in driverless vehicle technology, but deeper engagement with motorists on the benefits driverless vehicles could bring will also be crucial to encourage their adoption," said Rod Dennis, RAC spokesman.