Academics search for psychological solution to traffic congestion

Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways June 14, 2016 11:51

Academics search for psychological solution to traffic congestion

Commuters are set to become the driving force behind a new initiative designed to help reduce traffic congestion.

Experts from the University of Exeter are leading a new project to help determine what factors influence the time and routes chosen by people travelling to and from the city.

As part of the pioneering project, they are launching an online survey aimed at anyone aged 17 and over who commutes for work or study.

The innovative survey will examine commuting habits, typical journey details, influencing factors and knowledge of existing alternative transport initiatives.

The information will be used to develop a deeper understanding about the types of people regularly commuting and what determines their decision making.

The results will be used to help identify ways in which traffic congestion could be alleviated in the future.

Dr Sal Lampkin, from the University of Exeter’s Geography department and part of the project said: “It goes without saying that participation from the Exeter public is key to the success of this project.

“We are looking for as many people as possible to take part in the survey, as the more responses we get the more accurate picture we can paint of what drives traffic and congestion in certain parts of the city.”


The survey is part of a ground-breaking, two-year intelligent transport project for the area involving the University, in partnership with Exeter City Council, Devon County Council and a consortium led by NTT DATA, a leading global IT services provider.

Through the project, called Engaged Smart Transport, the group aims to identify solutions that will alleviate traffic congestion in and around Exeter.

The group will use real-time traffic and weather sensor data, combined with other data sources such as eyewitness and behavioural information to better understand the factors affecting people’s travel behaviour.

It is hoped that the results of the project, including the survey, will reveal where and why congestion happens and identify solutions to address these problems.

Traffic in Plymouth

The consortium has been awarded match funding by Innovate, the UK Government’s innovation agency and NERC, one of the UK Research Councils.

Prof Stewart Barr, from the University of Exeter’s Geography department and part of the project said: “This project provides the University with a unique opportunity to work with some of the world’s leading data and logistics providers to find ways to reduce traffic congestion in Exeter and to make the city an even healthier and environmentally friendly place to live, whilst becoming more efficient and economically competitive.

“Through working with the people of Exeter, the research will develop ways to help people use smart technologies in their everyday lives that could have benefits for everyone”.

The University data collection will focus initially on a general spread of people commuting in and out of Exeter to their place of work or study.

Then a more in-depth analysis of one or more of the commuter routes, e.g. the A367 Exmouth to Exeter corridor, will be undertaken, co-creating and testing a range of interventions with public groups from Exeter and the surrounding areas.

The research is based on the principles of socio-psychology, statistical modelling and social influence, and literature from sustainable transport, smart technologies, travel behaviour, mobilities and social marketing.

Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways June 14, 2016 11:51