Stress-busting technology set to ease summer holiday getaway

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Stress-busting technology set to ease summer holiday getaway

Post by Admin on Sat Aug 01, 2009 10:26 am

The Highways Agency says that more traffic technology than ever before is being used on the main holiday routes as families head off for the sunshine this summer.

The busiest two departure days are expected to be Saturday 18th and Saturday 25th July at the start of the school holidays according to the Highways Agency, which manages England’s 4,300 miles of motorways and major A roads.

Data collected by the Agency’s National Traffic Control Centre shows the total volume of traffic around Saturday lunchtimes can be comparable to a normal weekday rush hour.

In 2008 the second Saturday of the summer holiday, equivalent to 25th July this year, saw the greatest increase in overall traffic volumes. There were 33,500 more vehicles per hour on the Highways Agency network at the midday peak and the roads stayed busier into the afternoon and evening as people completed their journeys. The preceding Friday (24th this year) also saw an increase in traffic from the afternoon onwards, probably as families made an early start.

The average time spent on the road heading for a seaside destination is around four and a half hours – and this is often cited as the most stressful time of a family holiday, especially where young children are involved.

“About an hour and half into the journey, the kids will probably start asking ‘are we nearly there yet’ so planning those first precious hours of the holiday can be crucial to keeping everyone happy,” comments Steve Crosthwaite, head of the National Traffic Control Centre.

The Highways Agency is urging families always to check the route and travel conditions before they set off, to service the car to reduce the chance of a breakdown and always to carry an emergency kit.

Keeping a watchful eye on the traffic volumes during millions of holiday journeys, the Agency now has more than 1,000 traffic cameras together with almost 5,000 traffic sensors buried under the road surface. They all help to direct Traffic Officer patrols based at 32 locations across the network, feed real-time data to the traffic information services and to set the motorway signs to help families avoid the bottlenecks.

Many in the tourist industry are predicting busier roads because of a surge in the number of families choosing to holiday in the UK this summer.

“Whether you’re heading for the beach, the ferry or the airport our technology can help you plan your journey,” says Steve Crosthwaite.

Live traffic information for England’s motorways and major A roads can now be accessed from a mobile device as well as the standard Highways Agency website. This makes it easier for holidaymakers to avoid any congestion hotspots by checking during breaks on their outward journey and ahead of their return home from hotel, caravan or campsite this summer.

The Highways Agency website shows the live situation on the roads, even down to average speeds, what the overhead signs are saying and the view from thousands of CCTV cameras. It’s the most comprehensive picture of the actual traffic situation on England’s motorways and major A roads.

The same up-to-the-minute information is supplied by the National Traffic Control Centre to more than 250 radio stations and media websites, as well as the Agency’s own rolling traffic news service on DAB digital radio.

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