back to article Cars, lorries stalked via GPS to create live traffic super-map

The Highways Agency is trialling combining GPS tracking with data from its existing sources to provide real-time information to drivers on a 'beta' version of its traffic information map for drivers in England. A spokesman for the agency told Government Computing that by adding GPS data to that from its existing sources - …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ease congestion on the M25?

    I don't think so. All the routes are jammed, it doesn't matter which way you go or what you do.

    Hmm, seems fishy to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ease congestion on the M25?

      If you know somewhere is congested you tend to avoid it if you have a choice. I think this is the idea.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ease congestion on the M25?

        Therein lies your problem with UK motorways. Not a lot of choice.

        If you've ever tried to come off a motorway due to congestion then you'll know it is often futile.

        I spent a soul destroying 2.5 hours driving around (through?) Slough as a recent example of that.

        1. Miek
          Linux

          Re: Ease congestion on the M25?

          Whenever I have to drive to London, I often reminisce about the film "Falling down".

        2. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: Ease congestion on the M25?

          As an example of the sort of traffic rectification exercises they can under take, imagine (it's not hard) that the M4 into London is backed up to Slough. They can use that information to apply a temporary speed limit east bound into London, so as to reduce the number of cars arriving at the end of the M4.

          Now imagine that they can see the gridlock before it happens. With some traffic management, they can try to avoid the gridlock ever happening. And if they can't, the numbers may make some compelling argument for the M4(S) and M4(N) to be built, so that there is no J15 on the M25 anymore.

          1. Miek

            Re: Ease congestion on the M25?

            "Now imagine that they can see the gridlock before it happens." -- Are you suggesting that clairvoyance is an exercise that they can undertake?

            "They can use that information to apply a temporary speed limit east bound into London, so as to reduce the number of cars arriving at the end of the M4." -- that only causes backlogs elsewhere. As soon as you mess with speed limit you seem to get gridlock.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Ease congestion on the M25?

              "As soon as you mess with speed limit you seem to get gridlock"

              Can I suggest a little trip up "North" sometime. The M42, since the changes (Hard shoulder usage and temp speed limits), has improved greatly. Prior to it's introduction, it was almost daily to get start stop traffic and huge tail backs, now, yes it still happens, but it's a much less of an issue.

              Heck even the M5 / M6 interchange is better.

            2. jonathanb Silver badge

              Re: Ease congestion on the M25?

              If you slow people down gradually when there is congestion ahead, they don't slam on the breaks when they see a wall of traffic ahead. That means you get a steady 40-50mph through the congested area rather than stop-start waves that continue for hours after the blockage is cleared. That is why the temporary speed limits work very well.

              1. HipposRule

                Re: Ease congestion on the M25?

                Completely agree however my wife, who is quite alot younger than me, was always taught to slow down using the brakes and never use gear changes to slow down hence brake lights the whole time.

                1. T.a.f.T.

                  Re: Ease congestion on the M25?

                  I was taught (about a decade ago) that however you slow down you should have your foot touching the break to make it clear to traffic behind you that you are slowing; that would also mean break lights from gear changing. The other idea is that by having your foot poises over the break reduces the reaction time a bit as most of time accelerating is not an option to get out of trouble (especially if your under 30 and male as you cannot insure a car that will do 70mph without the backing of a major bank!)

                  1. Ian 5
                    Headmaster

                    Break lights?

                    Damn... my car needs these; brake lights are not enough.

  2. Graham Marsden
    Big Brother

    From the original article...

    "all the data is anonymised by the agency and that no individual, vehicle or device can be identified so that only data about traffic levels on a road is provided."

    And how long will it be before Theresa May and her merry cohorts say "Hey, wouldn't it be useful to prevent terrorism/ protect children/ other spurious excuse if that data wasn't anonymised so much"...?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: From the original article...

      The Home Office and Plod have already got the powers to get this data from the mobile networks whenever they want, added to which there is the static police ANPR network of over 10,500 cameras monitoring key entry and exit points to towns and all along the trunk road network. All built without under ACPO's "you're all guilty of something, and we don't need laws or your permission to track you" schemes.

      On the other hand, the Highways Agency have done a good job of improving traffic flows through applied IT (eg variable speed limits, hard should running on the M42), and I'm pleased they are continuing to look for ways of using new technology. As the article notes, participation is voluntary.

      1. Miek
        Linux

        Re: From the original article...

        "On the other hand, the Highways Agency have done a good job of improving traffic flows through applied IT (eg variable speed limits, hard should running on the M42)" -- Are those the same variable speed limits that are always set to 40 when I travel the M25?

        1. Elmer Phud
          Flame

          Re: From the original article...

          " Are those the same variable speed limits that are always set to 40 when I travel the M25?"

          So, you're the cause of it all!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: From the original article...@Miek

          "Are those the same variable speed limits that are always set to 40 when I travel the M25?"

          Not as afr as I can see. The M25 implementation pre-dates the M42 setup by many years and doesn't seem to work as effectively as the M42, where for the most part they are used intelligently, and considerably improve traffic flow and journey times. I used the M42 for a decade before the variable speed limits and hard shoulder running were introduced, and I was totally opposed to the idea when first floated, but I'm pleased to say it has been a huge improvement to the stop start and regular accidents that previously bedvilled that stretch. Obviously you can still get to the point where traffic overwhelms the capacity of the tarmac sometimes, but in terms of making the most of what you've got, it is a thumbs up from me.

          I suspect that the M42 package was designed with far better monitoring and telematics than the M25 setup, added to which the M25 is always only a few cars off total saturation, making the benefits more marginal.

        3. Martin 47

          Re: From the original article...

          You know few things in life piss me off as much as those matrix signs on the M25, you crawl for miles at an average speed of 5 mph and then come up to one of those signs and the fuggin thing either says 'que ahead' or takes the piss by showing maximum speed limit 40.

          I am sure there is some jobsworth barsteward sat in a control room sniggering.

          I know, poor rant, should have used more swear words blah blah blah.

        4. HipposRule

          Re: From the original article...

          No- because there is the ability to add the hard shoulder as a lane which currently happen on the M25. Shortly on the M4/5 junction area though.

      2. gc73

        Re: From the original article...

        Sounds like the ANPR data could be used for something beneficial and productive but isn't. Perhaps the powers that be have something to hide so don't want to share.

    2. The BigYin

      Re: From the original article...

      @Graham Marsden - Not so much that, but with the GPS data some suit will simply ask "Why don't we automatically fine people for speeding?", "Why don't we charge for actual road usage"?

      These ideas have been kicked around before, and they will come around again. Ignoring the fact that we already pay for road usage (fuel duty) and that there are various questions over just how effective the draconian imposition of speed limits actually is.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: From the original article...

        Nonsense, there have been many studies to work out the most effective speed limits on a motorway. Above a certain speed, happily around 80 mph, increasing speeds reduces the throughput of the road (the number of cars that can pass a certain point in a single hour).

        Also FYI, fuel duty and Road Tax do not cover the spending on roads. You may as well say "Ignoring the fact that we already pay for road usage (tobacco duty)…"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          WTF?

          Re: From the original article...@Tom 38

          "Also FYI, fuel duty and Road Tax do not cover the spending on roads"

          Quite correct, they don't cover it, they cover it three times over, with spare change for a mission to Mars.

          Fuel duty and road tax = c£33bn a year

          Roads spending = c£10bn a year

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: From the original article...@Tom 38

            Aha, you're one of those are you? Spending on roads != building and repairing roads.

    3. Bainshie
      Thumb Up

      Re: From the original article...

      Personally this and the new EU stuff should be expanded even further.

      Being able to tell when someone is messing around on public roads (Speeding, tailgating etc etc) without having to rely on expensive police patrols + speed cameras. Moving the two systems together has two main advantages

      1: Costs of enforcement go down

      2: Everyone drives safer. (It's kinda funny to see the retarded maniacs all of a sudden learn how to drive whenever a police car comes into view.)

      With a little bit of imagination you could make even more cool stuff.

      Someone steals your car? Report it stolen and get it back within the hour.

      Broken down on a blind corner? Press a button and your location appears on nearby cars GPS maps with a voice warning.

      etc etc etc.

      1. The BigYin
        FAIL

        Re: From the original article...

        @Bainshie

        1) Cost of enforcement goes up you mean. Now each vehicle carries its own nanny-brain which will need servicing, will take energy to run and then you have all the infrastructure required for the massive surge in fines. Plus you still require Old Skool enforcement for older vehicles and those who by-pass your Orwellian wet-dream. Oh, and you have to pay for continual updates as the system gets hacked. Oh my yes, it sounds like a step-forward so far.

        2) Indeed. So why don't we simply have more traffic police then? They are well known to catch more than just speeders (tail-gaters, lane hoggers, weavers, drunks, unsafe vehicles etc). Seriously, more traffic plod please!

        And with a little imagination you wouldn't have to put use under the heel of the technocratic overlords.

        We have these. They are called "trackers" (there's a variety of them). You know what they do? They track a vehicle when the owner wants it tracked. They are not spies.

        People should already be driving to that they can stop in the distance they can see. You think a blip on the GPS will help? They'll just turn the stereo up. Increasing gadgetry does not increase intelligence. Also, we already have warning triangles etc and the brains to exit the vehicle and move to a safe location.

        1. Bainshie

          Re: From the original article...

          You know how much Speed cameras cost? How much Police officers (who could be, you know, solving other crime rather then making sure people follow the rules of the road) cost? A lot. Each device would cost less then the price of a low end smart phone (Unless the thing in my £100 android isn't a GPS system that gets my data? I guess that's just magic).

          Heck if you're that worried about. Security, make it open source. That magically makes it awesome around these parts.

          And older vehicles are rather simple: Make not having one of these devices a MOT fail.within 3 years all cars will have one.

          Having more police don't work, as it is physically impossible to have without having a literal police state with a officer on every street corner. And 99% of all driving issues can be detected with the simple GPS.

          And your last arguments are just the ramblings of a retard. Just because SOME people might 'They'll just turn the stereo up' doesn't mean everyone, or even most people will. Sure that might be what you do while driving, but most of us take at least some care and attention.

          The fact is simple. What additional powers would such a system give the government. Considering that they can already trace 99% of shit/Ask witnesses.

          1. The Axe
            Mushroom

            Re: From the original article...

            @Bainshie. You still don't get it. A camera or device can only do one thing. It'll do it well, but it will do it stupidly. Like cameras enforcing a 40mph on wide straight road at the dead of night when 30mph is more appropriate during rush hour. A policeman however can do many many different things. Because he's human and not a robot. So if you really want to compare costs you have to add up all the electronic devices that will catch every single type of crime and compare it to the cost of a human. Don't forget that the devices will still need a human to maintain them. And you do not need a policeman on every corner. You just need them hovering around in random places, or places where problems occur. It's the visible presence of police that makes them effective, not the catching of the criminal after they've committed the act.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: From the original article...

              If I could interject... The concept that magically its safe to drive at high speed, just because its late at night and "empty" is complete garbage. I live in a 30mph zone, one of those "magic" country roads that are straight except for a S bend which is the 30mph zone. Every few months some moron flies off the road, they always claim to be doing 30mph and the police never prosecute, despite the damage. The drivers are always white middle aged males and tend to drive Citron Picasso type cars, no passengers, ie. large engine, heavy with poor cornering ability.

              Speeding fine on the motorway, but especially on B roads I would welcome a device that enforced the limit. End of the day, if you are paying attention and driving expecting horses/animals/tractors etc to be in your path, you will find that you are within 5mph of the "advertised" speed limit anyway.

              1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN
                Coat

                white middle aged males....Citro[e]n Picasso type cars

                Oh sh*t - that'll be me then next week !!! (except I will remember to spell CitroEn correctly in my accident write-up).

                Having driven Citron's (were you trying to be funny and hint at the *nature of the car make*?) for a number of years along with other [more sporty] front wheel drives - the only observation I have is that front wheel drive tend to go spectacularly off-course (er - straight ahead-ish) if pushed too much - without much warning - if you don't know your vehicle well AND have had a few G&T's beforehand....

                I learned to drive on rear wheel drive cars (yes, BMW if you want know) and lengthy re-acquaintance with a 28yr old mid-range 3-series indicates cornering I remember - much more grip than a modern front drive wheel MPV - but your nerve will fail before the car does (same bend+weather+road surface).

                In short - know your car - know it's limits and know your own limits (that'll be driving skill and the alcohol and time of day)

                PS - make fun of Citroen if you will - I've had 1 BMW and 3 Citroen taken to >195,000miles. the Citroens (OK all Xantia's/C5) required no more trips to repair than the BMW and cost far less to run/insure/fuel. Current 'wheelbarrow' is on 145,000 and going well (X-Picasso). Old Beemer on 72.5K (not fully run in..)

          2. Martin 47

            Re: From the original article...

            Excellent idea, means I can drive how I want too and only have to remove the sensor power lead/tin foil aerial overcoat once a year for the mot.

            Although the calls from that Nigerian bloke offering to take care of all my infringements for a small fee could get tiresome.

            1. Bainshie

              Re: From the original article...

              That's piss easy to fix. In between MOT's, check the mileage, then the amount of data sent. If they don't match up, BANG! 20 years in jail for possession of a dangerous weapon (Lets face it a car in the hands of a idiot is basically that).

              And you seriously underestimate what computers can do. Excessive speed, lane hogging, tail gating. All easily spotable and enforceable with simple positional data.

              You could then enforce nationwide variable speedlimits. It the middle of the night on a motorway? Increase the speedlimit by 10MPH. Pouring it down with rain. Decrease the speed limit. Accident just happened up ahead. Decrease the speed limit for a while.

              No more hit and runs. Increase safety, insurance claims made a LOT easier.

              Ofc, the real reason you lot don't want it. Because you're those 'Speed limits are just a guide, I know how to drive' wankers. I can imagine you now, fat white balding idiot in a van, a mobile phone in one hand, a sandwich in the other and steering the vehicle with your ballsack going 50MPH outside of a school honking your horn at anyone going at the speed limit.

              And yes, technically cars nowadays have the ability to safely travel far higher then the average speed limit, if the driver has enough skill. How do you know if you have that skill? Rather simple. Do you drive for the F1/other racing competition? Same answer.

              Also I never get this 'Late at night' argument. Last time I checked hitting a kid at 50MPH, the physics involved doesn't give a damn whether it's light outside or not. Neither do the laws of physics when you end up losing control and smashing through the front of a innocent families house. If anything you're more likely to have a incident due to the reduced traffic inducing a level of false security, and the reduced vision (40% of all fatal and serious injuries happen during this time, even though there is a 60% reduction in traffic).

              So in conclusion. You're a arse. Stop being a arse before you kill someone. You are the reason this kind of system needs to be put in place.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Megaphone

                Re: From the original article...@Bainshie

                "I can imagine you now, fat white balding idiot in a van"

                And I can imagine you now: A spittle flecked, opinionated twerp, spouting self righteous rubbish out of your @rse.

              2. Graham Marsden
                FAIL

                Re: From the original article...

                @Bainshie: You really seem to love the idea of Big Brother looking over your shoulder at everything you (and we) do, don't you? I bet you also think that "if you've done nothing wrong you've got nothing to hide" too.

                Remember that the last Government wanted to put ANPR cameras at intersections on all major roads and then issue automatic speeding tickets to anyone who got from A to B quicker than they were supposed to. Of course this would also have allowed them to track exactly who goes where and when, but, hey, if these people have got nothing to hide, why should they worry?

                As for your imagining of your putative interlocutors, I am a member of the IAM, I have passed my Advanced Motorcycle Test, I am neither fat, nor balding, nor drive a van, nor eat sandwiches, nor use mobile phones when moving, nor engage in any of the other ridiculous behaviours you wish to ascribe to me. In fact the only bit you did get right is that I'm white.

                Not very successful imaginings, then and when you add in your belief that the system you support would eliminate hit-and-runs, tailgating and all the other nonsense, well, I can do you a good deal on Tower Bridge...

                And telling people that don't agree with you that "you're an arse" doesn't add anything to the validity or credibility of your arguments either.

                1. Bainshie

                  Re: From the original article...

                  "You really seem to love the idea of Big Brother looking over your shoulder at everything you (and we) do, don't you? I bet you also think that "if you've done nothing wrong you've got nothing to hide" too.

                  Remember that the last Government wanted to put ANPR cameras at intersections on all major roads and then issue automatic speeding tickets to anyone who got from A to B quicker than they were supposed to. Of course this would also have allowed them to track exactly who goes where and when, but, hey, if these people have got nothing to hide, why should they worry?"

                  Actually that's a good question. Why are you so against the storing of things done in public? You see, I can understand privacy in your own home. Inside your home you may want to do things that although are legal, are also socially disliked. Such privacy allows law abiding people to avoid prosecution from the public and government alike.

                  However, once you step outside of your door, those rights disappear. Everything you do becomes public knowledge. I can legally photograph you and your surroundings all the time you are on public property. I can tweet to the world where you're driving. I can store that information and do whatever I like with it.

                  And that right and freedom to public information is a lynchpin to modern freedom. If the government introduced a law to protect public information from being shared, these comments would be filled with people claiming it's a big brother plot to hide the wrong doings of government. Yet when the government attempts to use those rights to public information, it's a big brother plot as well? You can't have both. Ether all actions in public are protected, or none are. Anything else is Hypocritical and being less about freedom and more about just being anti-government for the sake of being anti-government.

                  “As for your imagining of your putative interlocutors, I am a member of the IAM, I have passed my Advanced Motorcycle Test, I am neither fat, nor balding, nor drive a van, nor eat sandwiches, nor use mobile phones when moving, nor engage in any of the other ridiculous behaviours you wish to ascribe to me. In fact the only bit you did get right is that I'm white.”

                  So you're one of those 600cc+ idiots weaving in an out of traffic like a idiot? I say this as a motorbike rider myself.

                  “Not very successful imaginings, then and when you add in your belief that the system you support would eliminate hit-and-runs, tailgating and all the other nonsense, well, I can do you a good deal on Tower Bridge...”

                  See my previous post about more detailed explanation on how a simple system could detect those. And although it wouldn't eliminate them, it would reduce them dramatically. If you seriously couldn't see how having a GPS system in every car would help find and convict hit and run drivers.... then you seriously need a better imagination.

                  1. Graham Marsden
                    Boffin

                    @Bainshie Re: From the original article...

                    "Why are you so against the storing of things done in public?"

                    You're asking the wrong question. You should be thinking "Why should everything done in public be subject to monitoring and storage?"

                    I have the right to "Go about my lawful business without let or hindrance". I do not have to prove that I have done nothing wrong, nor does the state have the right to monitor my every movement and action *just in case* I might do something wrong, this is a fundamental freedom that I enjoy in this country (well, more or less, since successive governments have already started whittling away at these rights!)

                    You seem to want a system like in the old East Germany where half the country was spying on the other half. I don't.

                    By the way, please understand that there is a difference between Public Information about what the Government is doing (since they are actually supposed to work for us) and information about what a private individual is doing and when you say "I can store that information and do whatever I like with it.", I suggest you look at the stipulations of the Data Protection Act (not to mention the laws against Stalking) and you may just find that actually you cannot necessarily legally do this.

                    "So you're one of those 600cc+ idiots weaving in an out of traffic like a idiot? I say this as a motorbike rider myself."

                    No, I am the one of the ones who is Making Progress legally and safely. And if you haven't taken Advanced Training, I'd strongly recommend it as I would to any other biker so they can do the same and *not* "weave in and out of traffic like an idiot".

                    Finally, how would your Big Brother system for "convicting hit and run drivers" work with stolen cars? Hmm...

              3. The BigYin
                FAIL

                Re: From the original article...

                @Bainshie - "Excessive speed, lane hogging, tail gating. All easily spotable and enforceable with simple positional data."

                Umm...no. Not unless the computer has full vision of the road, knows the conditions and has an AI. Staying in one lane (even the 'wrong' one) can sometimes be the right thing to do. But I don't think you understand that.

                "It the middle of the night on a motorway? Increase the [speed limit] by 10MPH."

                So at night (reduced vision) you want to increase the speed? You are assuming that the road ahead is clear, yet people have a reduced distance they can see ahead and thus less time to react; or does your wonder device also have active radar? You are clueless.

                "No more hit and runs. Increase safety, insurance claims made a LOT easier."

                Bollocks. Cloning/Hacking and you seem to forget that older vehicles won't have them. Oh wait, you want mandatory fitment don't you? Won't work you pillock. Never mind the sheer cost involved, some vehicles cannot have speed control etc. How are you going to manage that on a carb'd m'bike; hmm? And you do understand that m'bikes make active use of engine speed when cornering don't you? A sudden change in power could be catastrophic.

                "Do you drive for the F1/other racing competition? Same answer."

                Have you ever actually watched any motor-racing of any kind? Racers do not necessarily make safe drivers.

                "Also I never get this 'Late at night' argument. Last time I checked hitting a kid at 50MPH, the physics involved doesn't give a damn whether it's light outside or not....If anything you're more likely to have a incident due to the reduced traffic inducing a level of false security, and the reduced vision (40% of all fatal and serious injuries happen during this time, even though there is a 60% reduction in traffic)."

                Yet you advocate raising the limit at night. Make your bloody mind up!

                "Stop being a arse before you kill someone. You are the reason this kind of system needs to be put in place."

                Just because you are incapable of following the rule of the road does not mean the rest of us are. Yes there are idiots, but there will always be idiots and I'd like to retain at least some semblance of freedom and dignity if you don't mind.

                If you are so obsessively concerned about safety, then sell your personal transport and use PT. Statistically it is much safer. Otherwise....do hush-up and go back to taking the meds.

                1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

              4. Super Mario
                Happy

                Re: From the original article...

                If anything you're more likely to have a incident due to the reduced traffic inducing a level of false security, and the reduced vision (40% of all fatal and serious injuries happen during this time, even though there is a 60% reduction in traffic).

                So in conclusion. You're a arse. Stop being a arse before you kill someone. You are the reason this kind of system needs to be put in place.

                Did you inadvertently call All 4x4 drivers Arse's??

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TomTom Live?

    Sounds exactly what TomTom is doing (with relative success) for years, using Vodafone mobile as it's main data source. Works very well when the servers are up and running...

    Why duplicate efforts and more importantly split the data as the higher the samples the better the stats are...

    And for once I nearly believe that data handling by a private company might be safer than by a big brother obsessed state.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby
      Devil

      Re: TomTom Live?

      Don't know why you've posted Anon.

      TomTom, Navteq (Traffic.com, etc...) both have been doing it. Its being done on a voluntary basis.

      Now those w Google Androids... I believe they may be doing it too, but less voluntary in nature.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TomTom Live?

      TrafficMaster were afaik the first to gather and resell this kind of data in the UK, with their standalone pager-technology YQ devices.

      These days you do it in software with something like TrafficTV on your smartphone (including Symbian S60).

      UK traffic info on Google Maps is utterly utterly useless in comparison with TrafficTV. But it's Google, and it's free, so it must be good. Well, unless you want to know where the congestion is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TomTom Live?

        In defence of GMaps, I find it's quite accurate actually. Only yesterday it told me about a hold up after a junction on the M42 and thanks to Maps I was safe in the knowledge it was only a few hundred meters long

  4. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

    Alternatively...

    There were the proposals from a few years ago which would fix a number of these issue with one fell swoop.

    The first plan was to change the M25 junctions so you could only join from a Motorway or A1(M)/A3(M) type road whilst leaving at any of the current junctions thus removing a lot of the junction hoppers.

    The second idea was to remove all trains from the current overground setup, cover it in tarmac and move all HGVs and long distance coaches onto it. They would be required to use it until within a set distance of their destination (some weird formula was put together).

    Between the two measures they reckoned to clear 30-40% of current traffic off the roads including the bulk of the traffic which can least cope with rapid changes of average speed.

    1. Liz 1

      Re: Alternatively...

      "The second idea was to remove all trains from the current overground setup, cover it in tarmac and move all HGVs and long distance coaches onto it."

      Surely that would be self defeating because it would displace thousands of train passengers into their cars? Or do you imagine they would happily take coaches instead? I don't see it myself - it's not the same experience at all.

      1. Elmer Phud

        Re: Alternatively... coaches

        "Or do you imagine they would happily take coaches instead? I don't see it myself - it's not the same experience at all."

        Hmm, sMegabus and 'electronic ciggies'.

        or Divine Comedy's 'National Express'?

    2. gc73

      Re: Alternatively...

      Or have a roll-on-roll-off rail network for HGVs. The only traffic would be from a city hub to local distribution.

      1. Ryan 7

        Re: Alternatively...

        The loading gauge of the UK's rail network isn't big enough for a truck on a train carriage.

        1. stucs201
          Facepalm

          Re: Alternatively...

          Perhaps someone should invent some sort of standard storage module which can be transferred between rail and road as appropriate. If you were really ambitious you could even consider using them on ships.

          1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Alternatively...

            Hey!

            Great idea. You should patent it.

            How about calling these things 'Shipping Containers'?

            1. stucs201
              Paris Hilton

              Re: Alternatively...

              I can't see that name catching on.

              I was going to call them Portable All Routes Identical Storage.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    oh, let me just grab a url to send to my mum who's driving down our way later

    oops

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    will it be lane specific?

    Technology is wonderful, but if you could just get those morons who don't know how to move left trained in the fine art of driving congestion would drop. The M1 widening has been an unprecedented success in my eyes, the middle lane sitters now use lane 3, so I have a whole two empty lanes to undertake on rather than the usual 1 whilst the rest of the road users pile into a traffic jam in lane 4 trying to get past.

    1. Miek
      Flame

      Re: will it be lane specific?

      Yeah, those morons who sit in the middle lane are NOT enjoying a safer journey they are just lazy fockheads who make the road a worse place for other users.

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: will it be lane specific?

      I feel your pain, AC. It is usually a woman of about 30 yoa in one of the "updated classics" (new Mini/Beetle/Fiat500), doing just under 70mph. However, I don't know if that cluelessness is worse than our kind friends in HGVs are helping by choosing to put three of their vehicles abreast in the world's slowest race.

      (However, this is nothing compared to the car coming towards me in the fast lane of the M69 last night, the driver of which clearly knew s/he was on the wrong carriageway because he was frantically flashing his lights, but had made no attempt to get on to the hard shoulder and stop. I wonder what happened when he got to the M1 roundabout ...)

  7. 27escape

    Just ask google for it

    I am sure they already have this, if you are using google navigation, I would expect that this is already fed back to the google plex

  8. hurtlebum

    Waze is a free app that will do this, I use it most days (I live in the US at the moment, but I believe Waze covers the UK too). I lets you see live traffic speeds using data collected from other users and lets you put markers on for hazards like accidents etc. Worth a look if you are in need of a mapping device.

    I really wouldn't want to be a shareholder in the likes of TomTom these days, there is no way they can keep charging £50+ for a map update when it's all there for free (if you have a data plan) or use the offline mode of Google Maps.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Solving traffic jams

    Instead of spending a huge amount of money putting induction loops under all the roads, what about just putting up some signs reminding people to just pull back over into the inside lane when they are finished / not overtaking.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Solving traffic jams

      Why not ditch the useless speed cameras and put some pigs back in their pandas to catch bad drivers. As well as lane hoggers, they could catch and ban the knobs who don't bloody indicate (WTF are those flashing orange things for ?!) , biddies who drive persistently at 20mph under the speed limit for no good reason, idiots who don't know what a box junction is, people who don't know how to navigate and signal at roundabouts, those people who drive at 60 on a busy dual carriageway who work in conjunction with those who drive at 80 on the same road in conspiracy against those of us who want to drive at the speed limit and not hog lanes, anyone who drives an Audi or a BMW, old fellas in Rovers and post menopausal women in small French hatchbacks. Just banning all the people who don't indicate would save the planet from global warming, there are so many of the bastards.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "all there for free (if you have a data plan) or use the offline mode of Google Maps."

    Have you actually tried this?

    I have TomTom Mobile (several years old) on my Symbian phone, also several years old (my primary gadget).

    I have the latest Google Maps on my Android (ZTE Blade, secondary gadget).

    I frequently travel between Reading and the Midlands, and have done so for over two decades.

    Every now and again I give Google Maps/Navigate another chance. I tried this again a few weeks back.

    It's great with Maps to have the option of seeing every junction pictured as well as on the map, better still if you're actually in an area with usable data cover and available bandwidth.

    It's not so great to not be able to tell Maps to avoid motorways.

    It's not so great to have traffic info which is non-existent or useless.

    TomTom may well be heading for trouble, but it's not because Google Maps has caught up yet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "all there for free (if you have a data plan) or use the offline mode of Google Maps."

      "TomTom may well be heading for trouble, but it's not because Google Maps has caught up yet."

      Look at how Microsoft ripped the heart out of the paid-for browser or email client markets, by offering rubbish products for free. In the market, being better usually doesn't top being free.

      TomTom is in trouble because sat nav has been commoditised and become a freebie on any mobile. For the dedicated road warrior I'd agree that a proper satnav beats most phone apps hands down (though the free Nokia Maps was, maybe still is brillant, with (switchable) speed camera warnings, speed limit reminders, road preferences, excellent voice quality, good maps and lane guidance, and good re-routing). Googlemaps suffers from several easily remedied failings (the Nokia maps strengths above), which Google shows no sign of fixing, but for free you can't really complain - unless you're a satnav maker losing market share.

      And of course, TomTom are now in bed with Apple, so that every OS maker now owns or has a captive navigation and maps provider. Given the five years of deterioration of TomTom's finances, it seems unlikely that they will survive much longer on their own, and the question is then, if Apple buy them (or their assets), will TomTom still offer standalone prmium satnav, or will they become another "me too" phone nav?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lots of tin foil hats out there.

    The Highways agency have their own systems. That withstanding, plod can just convert any camera into ANPR with a live feed, if it's got sufficient resolution. (Actually I don't know that have, but since I could do it in a few hours with COTS, palm fronds, and snot, I think it's safe to assume the Police have done it, or at the very least, the invisibles must have.)

    However, I quote a meeting with a DfT guy I once ended up stood next to in a pub queue.

    "The government already has the technology to penalty point your average driver off the road, in 4 trips. But the principal private secretary has noted that the government will be voted out, should they actually attempt to ban speeding. Thus it is policed by consent, and only complete currants get one up the arse." The closest I got to getting anything remotely not obvious out of him, was when I proposed that "I bet anonymous tip offs about car licensing violations, aren't necessary coming from people" and he said he didn't know.

    I don't think anyone has anything to worry about here. Move along (within the speed limits, if you please.)

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