Tackling congestion through telematics and optimisation

12 February 2018

Congestion Chaos

New research on road traffic congestion paints a gloomy picture for UK drivers.

According to the latest Inrix Global Traffic Scorecard, the UK is the third most congested country in Europe - and the tenth most congested in the world.

The largest-ever study of its kind, the report estimates that the cost of congestion to UK drivers totalled over £37.7bn in 2017, or an average of £1,168 per driver.

Unsurprisingly, London is the UK’s most congested city, with motorists on average spending 74 hours in traffic every year - the equivalent of almost two working weeks. Other UK urban areas struggling with congested arteries include Manchester, Lincoln and Birmingham.

Dr Graham Cookson, Chief Economist at Inrix, called for transport authorities to explore technological solutions to tackle the issue.

He said: “Increased flexible working or road charges have potential, however, transport authorities should be looking to exciting developments in data analytics and AI which promise to reinvent our approach to traffic management.”

Congestion's impact on business

In addition to being a huge inconvenience to drivers and commuters, congestion has a substantial negative impact on the economy through lost productivity and disruption to supply chains.

Dr Graham Cookson added: “Combined with the rising price of motoring, the cost of congestion is astonishing – it takes billions out of the economy and impacts businesses and individuals alike.”

For businesses that depend on commercial vehicles, congestion is increasingly proving to be a barrier to meeting tight delivery windows and maintaining service level agreements. In addition, time spent in traffic is a significant drain when it comes to fuel consumption.

Minimising its impact

Of course it is impossible at present to avoid traffic jams altogether. There are, however, a few ways you can use technology to help.

Most telematics systems provide real-time vehicle locations on a map. However,  a good provider will also enable you to overlay real-time traffic data on the map. This helps you to spot problematic routes early and to inform your drivers to take a different path if possible. For drivers that work nationwide, you may also benefit from using weather overlays by identifying poor conditions such as snow, ice and heavy storms which are likely to cause disruption to your drivers.

Some telematics providers, including Trakm8, also enable businesses to find the nearest vehicle to a job. By identifying the closest driver, business owners or transport managers can be assured that vehicles are taking the shortest routes, reducing the likelihood of being involved in heavy congestion.

In addition to telematics technology, Trakm8 provides route optimisation that can help reduce the number of delivery vehicles on Britain’s roads. Routes are optimised in order for drivers to complete jobs with the least amount of vehicles possible and with the lowest cumulative mileage. Recent research found that, for 30% of the total mileage driven by trucks in the UK in 2016, those trucks were completely empty. Higher utilisation rates effectively means that delivery companies are taking empty trucks off our most congested roads.

Trakm8 Optimisation even goes a step further, with dynamic route scheduling software. The algorithm within the scheduling software enables the route or delivery schedule to be changed automatically according to real-time factors such as heavy traffic, or when a customer makes a last-minute change to their specified delivery window. And it incorporates these changes in the most efficient way possible.

Avoiding wasted fuel caused by road congestion

Telematics also allows businesses to monitor the time vehicles spend idling. By identifying routes that are likely to be congested, businesses can take the relevant steps to ensure engines are switched off. If an area stands out as a notorious contributor for idling, drivers can be made aware that they need to switch off their engines if they are likely to be at a standstill for longer than a minute. These locations could be roads within city centres that are renowned for heavy congestion or stretches of motorway with ongoing roadworks.

If your business is looking to avoid lost productivity or wasted fuel consumption as a result of congestion, simply fill in our web form below and one of our staff will be in touch to explore your requirements and to discuss the technology which could address your issue.