Calming traffic

Written by: Eureka! | Published:
The road hump would be made of a flexible, elastic material and contain a series of compartments ...

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Speed humps and bumps, lane narrowing obstructions, stop signs and a multitude of traffic calming measures are the bane of the suburban driver’s life.

Not only do they provide a veritable obstacle course on the way to and from work, the school run or the supermarket, they can do some serious wear and tear to your vehicle. In more extreme cases, they can slow emergency vehicles down affecting the amount of time taken to get to an incident, casualty or fire.

However, there is clearly a need for them to be there; be that to stop speeding in residential areas or to stop heavy traffic flow from badly congested main roads from cutting through.

The challenge

This month’s challenge, then, is to come up with a better method of traffic calming. Something that causes the least disruption to those of us who abide by the Highway Code, but stops reckless drivers from being able to speed through suburban roads, car parks and industrial estates.

Think about what kind of technologies could be employed in your more efficient traffic calming method, perhaps it’s a simply a materials selection issue, or a bit of both? Whichever way you go with your design, try to avoid a design that would destroy the vehicle or hurt its occupants!

The idea we have in mind will be revealed in the June issue of Eureka! Until then see what you can come up with. Submit ideas by leaving a comment on the Coffee Time Challenge section of the Eureka! website or by emailing the editor:

The solution

Our solution to the problem of excessive traffic calming measures in suburban roads, industrial estates and car parks which can damage shock absorbers and suspensions as well as cause discomfort to disabled drivers/passengers comes from a Spanish company, Badennova S.L.

Its Intelligent Speed Bumps (BIV) yield to cars that are driven at a moderate speed, but harden to create an obstacle when they are impacted by force, making drivers reduce their speed.

The fully biodegradable non-Newtonian fluid is stored inside an ultra-tough, recyclable plastic covering that is designed to be highly resistant to wear, aging, vandalism and unfavourable weather conditions. Each bump comes as a single entity that requires bolting on to existing tarmac, reducing the need to dig up the road to install them. However, for the moment, it is only available for indoor use in parking garages and other covered areas.

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Coffee Time Challenge is just a bit of fun, but it is based on a real engineering solution. If you send in your ideas by using the comment button below, we can add your solution as an alternative – perhaps something funny, practical, cheap or, of course, innovative.

Obstacle Illusion Technique would hugely help in this aspect. This technique can virtually project a 3-Dimensional obstructions (example: Bump, concrete block, etc) on the road in order to give a sense of safety to reckless drivers. The 3-Dimensional shapes will be 2D projections but the illusion will look like 3D and will be spotted with certain distance only. So that the distraction is avoided for other road users such as the drivers in on-coming traffic. With advanced projection technologies, this can be fitted on top of lamp post and can be illuminated day and night with respective to light intensity on the roads.
Prakash Durairaj
The road hump would be made of a flexible, elastic material and contain a series of compartments filled with a viscous fluid. The compartments are linked by a restriction to slow the rate of flow between them. A vehiicle going over at low speed would allow time for the fluid in the compartment under the wheels to be displaced to adjacent compartments thereby reducing the height significantly. A faster vehicle would 'see' the whole hump as there would not be time for the displacement to occurr.
I 'invented' this about 10years ago when road humps were first introduced to my area !
Stuart Heath.
Speed bumps that raise up from the road surface when approached by a vehicle that is exceeding the speed limit but can be automatically overridden electronically by approaching emergency vehicles. The speed bumps would remain flush with the road surface for vehicles abiding by the speed limit....OR....speed limiters on every vehicle (except emergency vehicles), the speed limit being governed by the vehicles GPS position.
R Christopher
The best idea I heard of was (compulsory fittitng of) electronically controlled engine speed limiters, triggered by a linear strip in all carriage ways/lanes etc. This would also help to reduce the second-gear-I-like-the-noise speeders worst effects. One suspects that the strip could be a current based magnetic field and the pick up on the vehicle could be a simpler "magnet", partly to reduce tampering. Probably it would have to be backed up by a new section in the MOT test,which would have to be applied to all vehicles, and by severe penalties on any vehicle user found without (or with a disabled) device.
john moss

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