December 16, 2011
Buffalo, New York – Sending drivers on alternate routes may make their trips only slightly longer, but could cut their tailpipe emissions without significantly slowing their travel time, according to new research at the University of Buffalo in New York.
In detailed computer simulations of traffic in the Buffalo Niagara region of upstate New York, researchers found that “green routing” could reduce overall emissions of carbon monoxide by 27 per cent for area drivers, while increasing the length of trips by an average of just 11 per cent.
Funneling cars along surface streets instead of freeways in the computer model helped to limit fuel consumption, the researchers found. Also effective was targeting drivers intelligently: by rerouting just one-fifth of drivers who would benefit the most from a new path, regional emissions were reduced by about 20 per cent.
Researcher Adel Sadek said that such a system could be used right now. “We’re not talking about replacing all vehicles with hybrid cars or transforming to a hydrogen fuel economy,” Sadek said. “That would take time to implement. But this idea, green routing, we could implement it now.”
In the near future, GPS navigation systems and online maps could play an important role in promoting green routing, Sadek said. Specifically, these systems and programs could use transportation research to give drivers the option of choosing an environmentally-friendly route instead of the shortest one.
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