Exploring the use of advanced traffic information system to manage traffic congestion in developing countries

This presentation was made by Williams Ackaah of CSIR-Building and Road Research Institute, University P. O. Box 40, Kumasi Ghana. The author posited that road traffic congestion in most cities in developing countries keeps on increasing due to the increasing number of people owning cars. Congestion may occur when there are more vehicles than the road can accommodate (demand > supply). It may also be caused by a bottleneck (e.g., merging or weaving areas, on-ramps, road traffic crashes, and construction works) on a section of the roadway. Congestion is undesirable and may cause delay, environmental pollution, noise and even frustrate motorists and commuters which also have health implications. It may also lead to road traffic crashes and degradation of the road infrastructure.

Presently, advanced traveler information system (ATIS) is extensively used elsewhere and is regarded as an important component for road traffic control and management. ATIS uses information and communication technology to broadcast traveler information to commuters to help them in scheduling their trips and also offer directions on the way.

Information provided by ATIS may include: traffic condition (which may be presented in queue length, travel time, or delay), incidents such as road traffic crash and their geographical locations, events such as road construction and demonstrations, optimal routes, and inclement weather which may disrupt traffic. The traffic information may be transmitted via mechanisms such as radio and television, dynamic navigation systems (in-vehicle or mounted), internet services, smart phone services (e.g. specially designed application) and variable speed limit or changeable message signs systems.

Providing commuters with accurate, timely and reliable traffic information will influence travel behavior and ultimately result in reduced travel time and traffic congestion along with reduced vehicle emissions and fuel consumption. Notwithstanding the benefits which can be derived from using intelligent transport systems to manage traffic, its use can be described as being in the basic stage in most developing countries.