To force down traffic jams on motorways and keep the traffic moving, the government advocates a smart and flexible use of the road capacity, for example by managing the traffic.
Traffic management involves the use of practical applications such as extra lanes at rush hours and entrance ramp control. Furthermore, the Dutch Traffic Centre supervises the traffic on the motorways and can open extra lanes at rush hours. In the future, technological innovations in cars could contribute towards a better utilisation of the capacity of the roads.
Dutch Traffic Centre
Verkeerscentrum Nederland (VCNL), the Dutch Traffic Centre ensures that millions of road users can drive safely and quickly on the motorways 24 hours a day. With cameras along and above the roads and via intensive contact with the five regional traffic centres, the Dutch Traffic Centre keeps a constant watch on road traffic. At very busy times, the traffic centre can adjust the speed limit or open extra lanes so that the traffic continues to circulate and no traffic jams are created.
Extra lanes at rush hours
An extra lane at rush hours is an extra lane on the left- or right-hand side of the motorway which opens in busy periods. Extra lanes on the right are hard shoulders that are opened to traffic. This type of extra lane has a breakdown area every 500 to 1,000 metres. With extra lanes on the left of the road, part of the central reservation is used as a temporary extra lane.
An extra lane can be recognised by signs that indicate where an extra lane begins and ends. If the extra lane is open, then the green arrows are lit up on the electronic signs above the road. If an extra lane is closed, then a red cross is shown.
Entrance ramp control
With entrance ramp control, trucks and private cars are only allowed on the motorways in small numbers. This is done by controlling the traffic on the entrance ramp with traffic lights. To determine how many vehicles may drive on a motorway, the system measures how many vehicles there are on the motorway and how fast they are driving. The system subsequently calculates how many vehicles on the entrance ramp may actually enter the motorway. With a green light, one or more cars are allowed on the motorway. This ensures that the traffic on the motorway can continue to circulate.
Phased traffic lights
The Groene Golfteam (Phased traffic lights team) advises road managers (municipalities, provinces and the state) on the adjustment of traffic control systems such as traffic lights. This advice results in better circulation, more traffic safety, shorter waiting times, fewer emissions of particulates and a longer lifetime of the systems.
With breakdowns and accidents on the Dutch road network, the police, social workers, rescuers and road inspectors from Rijkswaterstaat (the executive arm of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment) work closely together to free the scene of an accident as quickly as possible and quickly allow the traffic to flow. This method is called Incident Management. The Dutch Traffic Centre also plays an important role in Incident Management.
Roads to the Future innovation programme
Roads to the Future is the innovation programme launched by Rijkswaterstaat, the executive arm of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. The programme focuses primarily on finding smart solutions for traffic jams and environmental pollution, for example. Examples are a floating road, flexible road marking with the aid of lights in the road’s surface and the use of roll-up asphalt. Citizens, businesses, authorities and research institutes work together in the programme.