Jan 20, 2012

Seems they love to waste fuel

By - Anoop Jha

Road junctions need smarter user interactive signal system..

And people need education!! When they know it’s going to be at least 3 to 6 minutes wait at road junction of their busy city and when it’s not extreme summer then why don’t they turn off the engine of their car for a while? This little act of saving petrol or diesel might not save them a lot of money today but if counted over a year the sum of this effort might add few thousand additional bucks in their bank balance. Imagine the gallons of fuel saved over the period by the collective efforts of citizens in a city.

Let’s dig into the psychology of car owners and possible reasons to waste the fuel at road junctions which could have been avoided. Is it because they are ultra rich people and don’t mind burning some fuel at junction, is it that car owners never thought about this as an option, is it that they are so much in hurry and preoccupied that they don’t want to think about it, is it that they want to avoid those beggars and casual vendors selling toys at junctions hence depending on air-conditioning system of car rather than opening window for few moments, is it that there is no one to educate them about how much fuel can be saved over the year by such practices, does it even really save some fuel or just a vague assumption? May be, may be not? But may be traffic signal itself has to play an important role in this regard.

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Current traffic signals are not smart enough to cope with the growing vehicle population and complexity. Need some proof? It can’t be called smart if signals are out of sight for majority of vehicles of quarter mile long queue. It can’t be smart if one doesn’t really know that how long they have to wait which is the case for majority of junctions. It can’t be smart if traffic signals of adjacent road junctions are not synchronized with each other for most efficiency, and it they are not flexible enough to adjust its signal timing as per fluctuating traffic volume at different hours of the day. It can’t be smart if it fails to convince or persuade people to follow the rule or to remind them the cost to neglecting the traffic rules.

Smart signals need to communicate with commuters in every possible way. They have to be more informative, strategically placed, built on flexible software platform, logic based traffic signals which should appear to have presence of mind, and they should be integrated with the installed cameras to gather information, derive inferences and act accordingly. They should be able to convey to commuters, what is the best time to turn off and on the vehicle engine for maximum fuel efficiency on a junction. What about an intricate pattern of parking size grid marked on roads approaching junction, assigning a dedicated waiting space for vehicles for maximum efficiency, safety and visibility? And so on!!

We plan new transportation systems, but with old tools!! We need to sharpen the old tools to make than smarter and to make the whole system efficient. 
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