'Smart' traffic lights trial launched in Newcastle


Newcastle University is pioneering new technology designed to enable traffic lights to send status information to in-vehicle devices, helping motorists drive more safely and efficiently.

The system links directly with Newcastle’s urban traffic management and control (UTMC) centre. It is initially being fitted in non-emergency patient transport used by Newcastle hospitals' NHS Foundation Trust to take people to and from appointments.

The aim is to create smoother journeys that use less fuel. The university’s professor of transport, Phil Blythe, said: ‘The system might advise a driver that, if they travel at 24 mph, they will hit the next four sets of traffic lights on green, as part of an energy efficient intersection service.

‘In more congested areas, or at particularly busy times of the day, vehicles on key roads might be given priority'.

Newcastle city’s UTMC manager, Ray King added: ‘This is about optimising the use of the network. The aim of the pilot is to show that such a system can work – that giving priority and personalised information to drivers can have a significant impact on how we drive and the conditions on our roads. This is just the first step’.

In the first phase, 20 traffic signals at key junctions and 14 vehicles are being equipped with the technology on key junctions around the city centre.

The team, working with traffic equipment supplier Siemens, is also trialling forward collision warnings to alert drivers to upcoming problems such as congestion, accidents or broken-down vehicles and red light violation warnings, triggered by a driver ahead of them.


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