Although roundabouts may be the cause of confusion and dread to some drivers, they provide a unique way of allowing traffic to flow freely thorough road intersections.
However, when the volume of traffic is too high for the layout of the road, congestion results in delays, which can end up with massive traffic jams.
Now, researchers from the UPV (Universidad Politécnica de Valencia) have come up with what they think is a revolutionary system to ease that congestion, by implanting sensors in the road that detect the passage of vehicles and determine when the volume of traffic is very high, which would then cause traffic lights to be activated to slow down vehicles on approach, allowing extra time for those in the area to manoeuvre through the roundabout, and, in some cases, stopping traffic on quieter roads to allow the congestion to ease.
The idea is to avoid situations in which the excessive entry of vehicles causes a general jam that prevents progress in any direction. With this system, it is possible to restore a normal traffic flow in a short time, managing the exceptional situations in a simple but effective way.
The system used, known as ramp meter, is already used successfully in some countries on access routes to motorways and main roads, restricting access when traffic on the main carriageway is too dense. Now, the system can be adapted and customised to the needs of roundabouts.