Traffic Management Systems


Driver description
Interactions with the Technology Domain
Interactions within the Social Domain
Interactions with the Economy Domain
Interactions with the Environment Domain
Impacts on Mobility and Transport

Driver description

  • “Traffic management is the planning, monitoring and control or influencing of traffic. It aims to: maximise the effectiveness of the use of existing infrastructure; to ensure reliable and safe operation of transport; to address environmental goals; and ensure fair allocation of infrastructure space (road space, rail slots, etc.) among competing users.” (Ref: CO_0288)
  • “Traffic management has long existed in one form or another, from the early days of railway signalling or traffic lights on city streets, but the development and implementation of sophisticated integrated applications based on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) has grown apace in recent years, as a result of successful research and technological advances. This has been pushed by realisation of the need to manage transport networks more effectively in order to maximise the use of existing infrastructure, provide a reliable service to the end user and increase safety, while reducing negative environmental effects.” (Ref: CO_0288)
  • “Addressing traffic congestion was one of the initial motivations to look at intelligent transport systems solutions for a better utilisation of transport capacity through the exchange of realtime information on infrastructure and traffic conditions.” (Ref: CO_0261)
  • “A number of major policy challenges underline the need for intelligent infrastructure to improve the transportation system: pollution, congestion, road safety, to name but a few.” (Ref: CO_0284)
  • “Management of traffic in the aviation and waterborne sectors follows very different principles and organisational and operational characteristics to land transport. (...). Air Traffic Management, for example, is strongly controlled by both EU and international norms and procedures” (Ref: CO_0288)
  • “EU initiatives and EU-funded projects have developed smart mobility systems, including the air traffic management system of the future (SESAR), the European rail traffic management system (ERTMS) and rail information systems, maritime surveillance systems (SafeSeaNet), and River Information Services (RIS). ITS applications in transport demand management (road charging, access management, eco-driving support and multi-modality) can also substantially reduce CO2 emissions.” (Ref: CO_0234)
  • “The main difference is therefore that routing for rail traffic is highly prescriptive whereas for road users it is primarily informative.” (Ref: CO_0288)
  • “The SESAR system is the EU's response to the problem of Air Traffic Control in international corridors. The European Council identified the project in 2005 as one of the "projects of common interest" for infrastructure to be implemented. SESAR is the technological element of the Single European Sky, adopted in March 2004, which lays down a clear organisation and establishes cross-border blocks of airspace. With these blocks, routes and airspace structures are no longer defined in accordance with borders but in accordance with the operational reality of traffic.” (Ref: CO_0255)
  • “(...) the predicted growth in air traffic calls for more efficient use of existing capacity in the air transport system. This is a key goal of the planned European ATM[1] system. The development of ATM now requires a robust validation process, and this has been the focus of substantial research.” (Ref: CO_0289)
  • “Traditional vessel traffic services (VTS) for both maritime and inland navigation have focused on traffic management, with an emphasis on safe navigation. More recently, vessel traffic management and information services (VTMIS) and river information services (RIS) have been developed as the ITS concepts for efficient and safe navigation at a European level.” (Ref: CO_0289)
  • “Traffic management involves the allocation of infrastructure (road space or train slots on a railway network) according to strategic operational and policy goals. These include efficiency, safety, environmental, economic and equity objectives.” (Ref: CO_0288)
  • “Progress in information technology has led to systems that can rationalise long-distance passenger journeys within the EU, enabling passengers to plan door-to-door multimodal journeys with the aid of integrated e-timetables and e-tickets.” (Ref: CO_0234)
  • “The role of technology in mobility has had three well-defined phases: a strategic phase initially (infrastructure provisioning) focused on functional and physical aspects, followed by a tactical phase from the industrial revolution, focusing on mechanisms, engines and energy, and the latest operational phase with ICt and other management tools applied to mobility. The ethics of these phases are also different: public service, productivity and market.” (Ref: CO_5005)
  • “Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) apply computers and electronic communication to improve transport services. So far, ITS successes consist primarily of driver information and navigation services, transit user information, transit priority systems, and better road and parking pricing, which tend to reduce rather than increase motor vehicle travel.” (Ref: CO_5047)
  • “ITS applications for traffic management and control include rerouting using VMS, Variable Speed Limits (VSL) with automated enforcement, lane control, dynamic use of the hard shoulder on motorways or access control measures such as ramp metering, as well as specific measures for freight such as information on Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) parking and “stacking” of lorries in the case of disruption. Cooperative systems, whether vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) or vehicle-to infrastructure (V2I,) will play an increased role in traffic management and control in the future; coordination across countries and regions, as well as with vehicle and equipment manufacturers, is required in order for systems to succeed in meeting traffic management objectives.” (Ref: CO_0288)
  • “The rapid fall in the cost of telecommunications and the evolution of IT systems is making congestion charging a lot more feasible than in the past.” (Ref: CO_0017)
  • “‘Soft infrastructures’ — such as intelligent transport systems for road (ITS and traffic management systems for rail (ERTMS[2]) and aviation (the single European sky’s SESAR[3], backed by Galileo — can optimise the use of the network and improve safety; innovative vehicle techno logy can lower emissions, reduce oil dependency and increase comfort.” (Ref: CO_0015)
  • “ITS applications in road transport include electronic tolling, dynamic traffic management with variable speed limits, parking guidance and reservation, navigation devices and driver-assistance systems like electronic stability control and lane departure warning systems. Thanks to ITS: transporters benefit from integrated ITS systems such as navigation, digital tachographs, fleet and freight management and electronic toll payment; toll payments are fully automated, eliminating the need to stop at the toll gate; a vehicle involved in an accident sends its precise location, obtained by satellite positioning via a communications network, to an emergency centre.” (Ref: CO_0015)
  • “Results could also be affected by the introduction of intelligent transportation systems (ITS), such as timed-entry freeways and on-board traffic directors that could reduce congestion and increase the mean speed of automobiles by up to 15% (e.g. Diebold Institute for Public Policy Studies, 1995). Consequently the share of automobiles would rise as this mode could, with ITS, better satisfy the demand for higher speed transport. (…) n NAM, for example, ITS would increase the 2050 automobile traffic share from 28 to 32%. However, as high-speed modes are still one order of magnitude swifter, the decline of automobiles would be delayed by only approximately 4 years.” (Ref: CO_0001)
  • “Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) are a key tool for traffic management (...) especially for interurban networks such as the TERN[4], where congestion is less recurrent (as in urban areas) and can be caused by seasonal traffic peaks, incidents, closures, roadworks, weather, etc, and where in many cases diversionary routes, traffic demand and capacity management solutions exist.” (Ref: CO_0254)
  • “Interurban traffic management includes traffic control centres, tactical management (such as lane control, variable speed limits, hard shoulder running and automatic incident detection), as well as strategic management (longer distance diversions or re-routing, data exchange and common approaches such as traffic management plans involving neighbouring road authorities, etc).” (Ref: CO_0254)
  • “Although many traffic management and control techniques used on interurban networks are valid, with some traffic management plans near key conurbations integrating the interface to urban networks, urban traffic management principally involves traffic signal management and co-ordination, priority and improvements to public transport and a more comprehensive mobility management approach, given in particular that a much greater proportion of trips in urban areas are regular journeys (e.g. commuting).” (Ref: CO_0254)
  • “It is increasingly evident that technological improvements involving individual vehicles or infrastructure components and sub-systems are insufficient. Solutions must be found at the level of the interactions between the various constituents of transport systems, including users, and their optimal combination.” (Ref: CO_0261)
  • “Integration is needed at three levels: between vehicles, infrastructures and users – against an appropriate background of legislation to promote deployment across Europe; between different transport modes, permitting efficient and cost-effective door-to-door trips for both passengers and freight; and multi-criteria optimisation, taking into account performance indicators related to safety, congestion, environmental impact, cost and comfort.” (Ref: CO_0261)
  • “(...) ITS will play a prominent part in securing the future of sustainable mobility against a background of mounting economic, environmental and societal pressures." (Ref: CO_0261)

[1] Air Traffic Management

[2] European Rail Traffic Management System

[3] Single European Sky A(ir) T(raffic) M(anagement) Research

[4] Trans-European Road Network

Interactions within the Technology Domain

Technology development in general and innovation diffusion

  • “Key examples of systems for road traffic management that are developing rapidly include Hard Shoulder Running (HSR), Section (or Average) Speed Enforcement and floating vehicle traffic information systems, which are now available commercially in many countries. Many of these systems are restricted in their effectiveness and transferability, however, by a lack of timely and accurate information or the ability to exercise suitable control over traffic. To that end there is a need for an increasing research focus on issues such as distributed sensing or “data nets” potentially using data fusion, or developing low cost sensor equipment.” (Ref: CO_0288)

Advanced Driving Devices

  • “Although ITS research initially focused on automated driving, which probably would increase vehicle travel, implementation of this strategy has been slow. It seems unlikely that driverless cars will become widely available during the foreseeable future.” (Ref: CO_5047)
  • “Deployment of large scale intelligent and interoperable technologies is critical in optimising use of infrastructure capacity.” (Ref: CO_0234)

Information systems

  • “(...) transition towards more intelligent infrastructure needs to be managed well. There is a danger in introducing new technology if there is insufficient design and planning. (...) rushing to implement new solutions has repeatedly led to sub-optimal solutions that are not integrated with other parts of the system. This can result in unnecessary barriers for subsequent, more optimised solutions for the overall transport development.” (Ref: CO_0284)
  • “Future innovations in intelligent infrastructure will come less from information is transformed and distributed. (...) The challenge will be in integrating, processing and disseminating this information in a way that benefits the user. So not only the systems need to be interoperable, but also the information will have to be made compatible through standards or by creating additional layers to interconnect different data. And in the foreseeable era of information overflow, care needs to be taken in ensuring the reliability of data provided.” (Ref: CO_0284)
  • “Increasingly, it is seen that traffic management can be implemented at a microscopic level (e.g.i2010) through the use of Cooperative Vehicle Highway Systems (CVHS). Information from vehicles could be used individually to provide accurate network conditions and aid in the detection and early warning of accidents and the selection of appropriate management strategies, with these implemented by giving early warning of network or road conditions ahead, so that vehicles will be able to communicate with each other and modify speed, headway and route in order to optimise conditions.” (Ref: CO_0288)

Pollution abatement and monitoring

  • The clear solution is for government to begin addressing the problem of transportation pollution by monitoring gas levels where they are being created, and using ITS as a way to inform and manage the problem. (Ref: CO_0278)

Interactions with the Social Domain


  • “Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) are increasingly being deployed in urban areas as part of the response to the transport issues faced by authorities.” (Ref: CO_0260)
  • “The parts of the road network which require traffic management the most are urban areas, where most congestion occurs, and on the Trans-European Road Network (TERN, or road TEN-T), which serves as the core motorway and high-quality road network linking the different regions and Member States of the EU, and which carries the great majority of regional and long-distance traffic.” (Ref: CO_0254)
  • “Provision of adequate data for traffic management is particularly important in the urban context where the needs of passenger cars and freight are increasingly in conflict with those of public transport, and priority systems are required, such as Automatic Vehicle Identification and Location (AVI/AVL) and Automatic Number-plate Recognition (ANPR), in order to ensure full use can be made of traffic management and enforcement strategies. Indeed existing Automatic Incident Detection (AID) measures can be supplemented by, for example, “probe” (or “floating“) vehicle systems.” (Ref: CO_0288)


  • “With an increasing number of traffic management and control techniques and products available, the place of traffic management within sustainable mobility itself is of vital importance. Indeed its use as a transport planning tool is now of increasing importance.” (Ref: CO_0288)

Change of lifestyle and values

  • “The core of the opportunities of ICT according to many analyses and documents is that the technology works 24 hours a day and seven days in a week, and that this goes world-wide. The popular view is that ICT annihilates the significance of space and time and that this is a new phenomenon.” (Ref: CO_2018)

Interactions with the Economy Domain

Regional differences in economics

  • “Intelligent Transport Systems are reasonably common in developed countries but still rare on the roads of emerging economies. This represents an unfavourable trend in relation to the smoothing of regional differences in the development of an international transport system.” (Ref: CO_0281)

Availability of public and private resources and investments in the transport sector

  • “Cost-effective use of public money is an issue clearly addressed by urban and interurban traffic management. Increasing the punctuality of public transport and the reliability of networks depends on providing an improved service level with the same system cost.” (Ref: CO_0288)
  • “ITS systems have considerable benefits in improving traffic flows, increasing safety and improving services to road users, for relatively little costs compared to the cost of building new infrastructure.” (Ref: CO_0254)
  • “Even with relatively small investments, the integration of existing technologies could create new services bringing more reliable, real-time traffic information and better routing. This would make more effective use of the available infrastructure and avoid delays caused by traffic jams, as well as reducing the need for new investments in additional roads.” (Ref: CO_0261)
  • “Intelligent mobility solutions and transport demand management based on smart charging will alleviate congestion, but new or improved infrastructure will also be needed.” (Ref: CO_0255)

Market regulations

  • “For rail, rules for market opening, network capacity allocation and pricing also constitute policy-level strategic management.” (Ref: CO_0288)
  • “Traffic management has some political implications, such as perceived discrimination against certain users, and public and political outreach is important in explaining the overarching benefits of management strategies adopted and gaining public acceptance. At operator level, there can also be conflicts, for example, if traffic is diverted from a motorway operated by one authority to a network operated by another or if a political decision is made to allow more intercity passenger trains to use a rail network at the expense of freight or regional passenger services. Thus, for all modes, but especially road, institutional issues are often more of a barrier than technical ones.” (Ref: CO_0288)

Fiscal policy

  • “Policy actions that would accelerate the market take-up of ITS include pricing reform, financial incentives in the early stages of ITS markets’ development, dissemination, pilot projects, and measures to stimulate co-operation between operators.” (Ref: CO_0289)

Interactions with the Environment Domain

GHG mitigation

  • “Intelligent Transport Systems using Information and Communication Technologies contribute to greater efficiency of all transport modes, resulting in the reduction of CO2 emissions.” (Ref: CO_0234)
  • “In particular, they [ITS] help in lessening environmental impact: reduced congestion, a more efficient transport network together with better-informed travellers and more sustainable transport choices can help tackle climate change and reduce air pollution.” (Ref: CO_0281)
  • “At the September 2009 ITS World Congress in Stockholm, András Siegler, Director of Transport for the European Commission’s DG Research, estimated that widespread introduction of Intelligent systems and services could reduce congestion by up to 15 %, CO2 emissions by 20 %, and road fatalities by up to 15 %.”(Ref: CO_0261)
  • “Continuing progress in ICT and sensing devices will open the door to even more radical advances. And, while environmental benefit may not be the prime purpose of many ITS developments, more efficient road usage automatically leads to energy savings and reduced emissions.” (Ref: CO_0261)
  • “More efficient journey planning will reduce travel times and eliminate unnecessary journeys, lowering CO2 emissions.” (Ref: CO_0234)
  • “Furthermore, consolidation of large freight volumes for long-distance transport by rail and water can reduce the number and length of truck journeys, reducing CO2 emissions.” (Ref: CO_0234)
  • “Electricity use is already growing more quickly relative to other energy carriers as a result of the improvements and increasing numbers of electrical appliances and information technology and the Internet.” (Ref: CO_1009)

Noise levels and emissions standards

  • “In freight transport, information technology and transport management tools are used to optimise schedules and traffic flows (e-freight), which contribute to reduced congestion, travel time and CO2 emissions.” (Ref: CO_0234)

Pollution levels and emissions standards

  • “Traffic management systems are a key tool in controlling congestion and pollution.” (Ref: CO_0288)

Impacts on Mobility and Transport

Impacts are difficult to assess

  • “The use of information and communication technology (ICT) is deemed to have a considerable influence on the demand for transportation, even if the assessment of the right direction is not easy to grasp.” (Ref: CO_0034)

Facilitating the implementation of pricing and charging schemes

  • “Intelligent Transport Systems and Information and Communication Technologies are also important in supporting efficient use of transport infrastructure by facilitating road charging and access management schemes.” (Ref: CO_0234)

Improving efficiency and attractiveness of  public transport

  • “For public transport – whether by road or rail – the scope includes fleet management and timetabling, matching services and vehicles to meet demand and providing socially essential services while also fitting in with (or finding ways to improve) constraints caused by network capacity, driver shift patterns and technical aspects.” (Ref: CO_0288)
  • “New innovative solutions are needed to reach the objective of sustainable mobility while reducing energy consumption and air pollution. In urban areas, for instance, public transport priority strategies can significantly reduce travel time and have been shown to encourage modal shift in favour of public transport, although buses or trams need to run at sufficient frequency to justify the business case for priority measures.” (Ref: CO_0288)

New transport services and facilities

  • “The increasing pervasiveness of information and communication technologies (ICT) in all aspects of daily life is a powerful driver of change. New services and business models are facilitating journey sharing, shared ownership of vehicles and other collective services,” (Ref: CO_0260)


  • “ITS can be applied to all types of transport infrastructure (highways, streets, bridges, tunnels, railways, port and airport infrastructure), as well as vehicles across all transport modes, for both passenger and freight transport. It is also a potential tool to help link different modes (promoting co-modality and intermodality) as well as the services of different operators or infrastructure providers within a single mode.” (Ref: CO_0255)

Increase in interoperability and standardisation of data

  • “For road transport, tactical traffic management involves monitoring the actual traffic situation in real-time (including volumes, speeds, incidents, etc.) and then controlling or influencing the flow using that information in order to reduce congestion, ideal with incidents and improve network efficiency, safety and environmental performance, or achieve other objectives. On a broader scale, strategic traffic management involves managing whole networks at a macro level (overall operational policy), as well as integrating or linking different networks.” (Ref: CO_0288)
  • “Because transport is inherently transnational in nature, research efforts to solve its problems must also transcend the scope and scale of purely national efforts. The resultant innovations should be applicable across the whole of Europe, and even beyond. Geographical continuity, standardisation and interoperability of services are essential, in order to avoid the emergence of a patchwork of ITS applications and services.” (Ref: CO_0261)

Increasing interoperability in railways network

  • “The development and deployment of ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System), which encompasses ETCS (European Train Control System) and GSM-R (Global System for Mobile communications - Railway) to unify signalling and speed control in Europe, forms a major part of the EU’s railway policy.” (Ref: CO_0254)
  • “(...) today, although railway tracks crisscross the world, European trains are stubbornly limited in their range. Cross-border rail traffic is hindered by discrepancies between the national networks, with factors such as power supply, signalling, operational procedures and even track gauge varying from country to country. It means that with rare exceptions – for example, the Eurostar and Thalys trains – it is almost impossible for passengers to take the same train across national borders. A €30.4 million project called MODTRAIN[1] has helped develop standardised, interoperable components for tomorrow’s trains.” (Ref: CO_0258)


Improvements in air mode

  •  “The air transport sector is the mode where transport management is most advanced, with Air Traffic Control (ATC), airport management and on-board systems being essential to efficient and safe operation. The most important EU policy, as proposed in the 2001 White Paper and adopted in 2004 under Regulation 550/2004, is the Single European Sky legislation (CEC 2007a).” (Ref: CO_0254)
  • “In 2007, the EU established a joint undertaking to develop SESAR, the new generation of European ATM. This is the technological element to the Single European Sky. (...) Finally, a roadmap towards the implementation of the Single European Sky II (SES II) was adopted in a high level conference in Madrid in February 2010” (Ref: CO_0254)

Improvements in shipping

  • “One of the EU’s major policies in maritime transport is to promote Short Sea Shipping between Member States, both in terms of increasing the efficiency of multimodal journeys with a sea element and in terms of promoting coastal shipping as a way of transferring freight away from busy land corridors (for example direct sea links between Spain and Italy to reduce road transit traffic through southern France). The Motorways of the Sea concept is a key initiative in this regard, aimed at further facilitating the start-up of innovative integrated inter-modal transport solutions, simplifying administrative requirements and supporting initiatives in the field of the “greening” of transport.” (Ref: CO_0254)