New technology targets jam-causing drivers

Japanese car firm Honda claims to have developed a way to warn drivers if the way they are driving is likely to cause a traffic jam.

The firm, which describes the technology as a world-first, says that the acceleration and deceleration of individual vehicles has an impact on overall traffic flow, meaning helping drivers could significantly reduce congestion.

The technology on board the vehicle is able to track the way the vehicle drives, passing information on through a dashboard terminal designed to encourage smooth driving.

It also passes on the information to an online server, which could theoretically keep track of the same patterns of surrounding cars and adapt a cruise-control setting depending on the driving situation, smoothing the overall traffic flow.

Honda's tests suggest that the technology can increase average speed by 23 percent, and increase fuel efficiency by some eight percent -- that's expected to be verified when the team begins public road testing in Italy and Indonesia this month.

Unlikely many traffic warning systems, which rely on building up a picture of current congestion and calculating ways to avoid it, Honda's technology (developed with the Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo) is focused on actively trying to stop congestion from occurring.

However, it's not the only team of scientists on the case when it comes to modifying driving habits for the greater good -- academics at MIT last year unveiled an app which helps drivers stick to the optimum speed to stay 'in-sync' with traffic lights, which they believe could cut fuel consumption by 20 percent.