Satnav ‘rat-running’ could end under plan to change algorithm and make residential streets quieter
End of the satnav shortcut? Neighborhoods swarming with motorists using GPS devices to guide them through ‘rat races’ are growing quieter as the industry fine-tunes algorithms to move traffic back onto main roads.
- The satellite navigation company TomTom announced that there will be a change in the algorithm
- This will prevent motorists from using quiet residential streets to avoid congestion.
Neighborhoods plagued by motorists taking shortcuts will have some peace and quiet, as satnav companies have pledged to end backstreet detours.
TomTom, one of the leading satellite navigation systems, has claimed that the industry has made plans to adjust the algorithms.
This will channel more traffic onto main roads instead of secondary roads, in an attempt to end the “rat run”.
Ralf-Peter Schaefer, the company’s vice president, said this would “protect people in neighborhoods from noise and emissions” and that talks are ongoing at the European Commission.
These changes are expected to be introduced in 2025 or 2026 and, despite Brexit, they will also be seen in the UK, according to The Times.
Neighborhoods plagued by motorists taking shortcuts will have some peace and quiet as satnav companies have vowed to end backstreet detours (file photo)
The technology was introduced nearly 30 years ago in 1995 and helped motorists avoid congested roads by letting them know which back roads would take them to their destination.
AA President Edmund King said one person’s ‘sat nav rat race’ is another person’s front lawn and therefore it makes sense to ‘introduce a hierarchy of paths’.
He added that this would “ensure that direct traffic is not pushed into the most sensitive areas.”
“We don’t see this as a Nimby regulation (not in my backyard) as many of these small roads are not suitable for diverting traffic in terms of safety, environmental or even aesthetics,” said Mr King.
Figures from the Department of Transportation show traffic on residential back streets increased by 72.2 percent between 2009 and 2019, with satellite navigation tracking included in road tests since 2017.
Living Streets chief executive Stephen Edwards said people living on streets used as shortcuts have “felt powerless to do anything about it.”
TomTom, one of the leading satellite navigation systems, has claimed that the industry has made plans to adjust the algorithms
Edwards, of the charity formerly known as the Pedestrian Association, said the changes to the algorithm are “very welcome.”
David Metz, former chief scientist at the DfT, has published research indicating that sat navs slow down traffic on motorways.
The scientist, now an honorary professor at UCL’s Center for Transport Studies, found that plans to increase capacity on the M25 and M1 failed because satellite navigators were redirecting motorists onto the motorway for one or two junctions in short trips.
“The impact is to increase local use of highway capacity, to the detriment of long-distance users,” he added.