Ford Offers Solution to “Phantom” Traffic Jams

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An overhead view of two demonstrations conducted by Ford Motor Company and Vanderbilt University traffic researchers. (Photo: Ford)

Today’s active driver-assist technologies can improve traffic flow.

Research conducted by Ford, in partnership with Vanderbilt University, proves that phantom traffic jams (congestion that seems to happen for no reason) could be minimized with widespread use of adaptive cruise control.

On a closed Ford test track, 36 drivers simulated normal highway traffic using adaptive cruise control, which can automatically slow down and speed up to keep pace with the car in front. 

The same drivers then drove the same course, but without the technology, manually braking and accelerating to keep up with the vehicle ahead.

The study showed that even with just one in three vehicles using adaptive cruise control, phantom traffic jams could be significantly reduced.

“We encourage Ford owners who have adaptive cruise control to use it during their summer travels in the hope this smart technology today can be that first step to help ease commutes,” said Michael Kane, Supervisor, Ford Co-Pilot360 Technology.

“For years, traffic researchers and engineers have been looking to smart vehicle technologies to reduce traffic congestion, whether that’s vehicles that talk to each other or vehicles that can predict the road ahead,” said Daniel Work, Civil Engineering Professor at Vanderbilt University. “This demonstration was a unique opportunity to understand how commercially-available active driver-assist technologies can be used to positively influence traffic flow.”

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