Could this tech spell the end of the phantom traffic jam?

You’ve waved good bye to work or school, packed your holiday bags, applied sunscreen, and now it’s time to hit the road… straight into stationary traffic.

In the UK and across Europe, huge numbers of drivers setting off on their summer hols make so-called phantom traffic jams a common occurrence.

These frustrating hold-ups appear seemingly out of nowhere on busy roads when one driver hits the brakes, causing a chain reaction as other drivers tap their brakes, eventually resulting in traffic behind grinding to a halt.

Ford has worked with a US university to show how an advanced version of cruise control already offered on 80 per cent of our vehicles can help reduce phantom jams by automatically slowing down and speeding up to keep pace with the car in front, without getting fatigued or distracted.

Adaptive Cruise Control tech uses radar to track the movements of traffic ahead. When Ford put it to the test on a closed track, it was able suppress the braking wave so the last car in the lane only slowed by 8 km/h (5 mph) instead of coming to a stand-still.

See the effects for yourself in this short film.

A new version of the system introduced in our new Focus can even keep the car centred in its lane and bring it to a complete halt in stop-start traffic, before automatically setting off again when the car ahead moves – helping further reduce the stress of driving in traffic.

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