Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Using smartphones to prevent traffic jams

Paul Leroux
Smartphones and driving don’t mix, right? Normally, you would get no argument from me. Driving is the one activity where a half-second lapse in attention can translate into a lifetime of regret.

But you know, there’s more than one way to use a smartphone in a car. Take Honda, for example. They’ve been experimenting with an approach that may help prevent accidents, rather than cause them.

Let’s rewind a bit. A few months ago, I wrote a post on the potential benefits of adaptive cruise control. These benefits include a dramatic reduction of traffic congestion and safer distances between cars.

Well, guess what: it seems that a smartphone app can have much the same effect. Recently, Honda equipped a number of drivers with an app that monitors acceleration and deceleration. When a subject drives in a way that avoids causing a traffic jam, the app screen turns green; otherwise, it shows blue.

Simple enough, right? And yet, the results were dramatic: formation of traffic jams was delayed by up 6 minutes and fuel efficiency shot up by 22%. Not bad for a smartphone app.

I am, of course, skipping a few details. Read more about the study in Tech-On!, an outlet of Nikkei Business Publications.

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