The contribution that intelligent transport systems have made to improving air quality have been highlighted by ITS (UK) to mark National Clean Air day on 15th June.
Experts from the Smart Enviroment Interest Group have explained how ITS technologies have a significant role in improving air quality and reducing the negative impact of transport by contributing to the (1) reduction of journeys that to be made, (2) shift of journeys to less polluting and (3) improvement to the emission levels of road transport journeys.
In a short report by the Interest Group the three aspects are described as:
- Reduction: ITS technologies support the implementation of measures such as congestion charging and road user charging which influence travellers’ behaviours and reduce the use of polluting transport modes.
- Shift: The monitoring, informing and controlling functionalities of ITS technologies support the delivery of a wide range of interventions that aim to influence travel behaviour towards more environmentally sustainable transport options as well as more environment friendly driving styles. These include:
- Implementation of low emission zones (The introduction of a Low Emission Zone in Stockholm has resulted in 15-20% reductions of particulate matter and 1-8% of nitrogen oxides emissions)
- Bus priority signalling and monitoring/controlling of bus lanes
- Multi-modal journey planners and real-time traveller information
- Eco-driving navigation systems
- Improvement: In-vehicle ITS technologies such as Eco-driving assistance, Adaptive Cruise Control and Anti-idling improve driving efficiency and reduce air pollution. Eco-driving techniques can lead to significant fuel (and emissions) savings ranging from 2% to over 40% in some reported trials. Network-level ITS technologies such as adaptive speed management, traffic signal coordination, fleet management and smart motorways minimise the impact of congestion (acceleration/deceleration) and high driving speeds and consequently improve air quality.
ITS (UK) recognises that the transport sector is one of the major sources of air pollution leading to both ill health and premature deaths, with recent research suggesting that exposure to nitrogen dioxide is increasing mortality by the equivalent of 23,500 deaths per year in the UK and road transport is now the largest single UK source of nitrogen oxides (33%). The impact of exposure to particulate matter pollution is estimated to have an effect on mortality equivalent to nearly 29,000 deaths in the UK. Road transport is a major source of particulate matter with contributions rising from about 27% to 54% as particle sizes decrease.