Honda congestion minimizerEnlarge Photo
Is there a more depressing sight when driving than seeing the brake lights of hundreds of cars ahead on the freeway suddenly illuminating?
Even if there's no accident or construction work causing the mass slow-down, it takes only a few drivers miles ahead to bring traffic behind to a complete halt.
Honda wants to put a stop to it, and it's starting with your car.
There are already systems on the market that monitor traffic conditions and can relay information that helps you avoid heavy traffic ahead.
Where Honda's system differs is that it monitors your own driving, detecting acceleration and braking patterns that might cause congestion further behind you as following vehicles progressively brake more and more, until their lane comes to a halt.
While it has clear benefits for reducing the stress of following drivers, it also means that simply through the actions of one car, hundreds of drivers can benefit from shorter journeys.
It also means improved economy. Not just for your own car, as the system encourages you to drive more smoothly, but for hundreds of vehicles behind you, who can maintain a constant speed rather than slowing down and speeding up, wasting fuel.
The system could also be linked to a car's active cruise control system, so that when congestion is registered ahead by the satellite navigation system, your own car eases off gently. This creates a greater gap in front, hopefully allowing congestion to clear before you reach it.
Overall, Honda claims an improvement of 23 percent in average speed, and fuel efficiency improvements of 8 percent for trailing vehicles. Multiply that by all the vehicles that would benefit, and the fuel savings and emissions reductions could be huge.
While there will always be congestion, at least until linked "trains" of cars appear, Honda's research and development comfirms what we all knew all along:
Some of the best improvements in fuel efficiency can be made simply by anticipating traffic conditions, and driving considerately.