Navigation / Road Authorities / Technology / Traffic Management / Traffic safety

How do you influence a network of individuals?

With an ever-growing range of choices for road users to get traffic information, the road manager is stuck in the middle. Hélène van Heijningen also sees opportunities.

(This article has been translated from its original Dutch publication for, and is part of series of contributions by our subject matter experts on Inclusivity, Smart Mobility and Mobility as a Service (MaaS). Stay tuned for further article in the coming months, and follow Biind for original posts.)


Road authorities are losing control of their network. Where the road manager used to decide what information was communicated to the road user, nowadays the choice is up to the road user themself. The resulting fragmentation in traffic management means that road managers are increasingly less successful at guaranteeing smooth flow, safety and the environment at network level.

The choice is up to the road user

In a world where our vehicles inform, advise, warn and instruct themselves and each other, the influence of a road manager on our driving behavior and our route choice is much less clear. In addition, the growing role of OEMs and service providers in providing travel and traffic information means that road users can choose between many different channels all with varying information, which means that traffic cannot be specifically influenced by the road administrator.

The information chain

A good example of this occurs when road authorities use diversion routes or detours for road works. This information is made available to service providers to inform road users about possible closures, recommending alternative routes and extra travel time. In reality, service providers are often providing differing advice based on their own internal algorithms and knowledge of the network.

Such alternative advice can cause another part of the network to become overloaded, directing too much traffic to roads that are traffic calmed for environmental reasons creating unsafe scenarios if alternate routes are passed on to road users too late or incorrectly. To prevent negative effects and unsafe situations that can arise as a result, it is important that road authorities re-establish that connection with the road user and that travel and traffic information from third-party channels does not conflict.

Smart traffic management

Whereas in the past road authorities had a monopoly on informing, advising, warning and instructing road users, the future requires a different view of traffic management. To regain control of the network, road authorities can take a number of steps. For example, the development of Infrastructure-to-Vehicle (I2V) communication can be used to achieve a more direct connection with road users. Through I2V communication, targeted communication can be made with road users about matters that apply from a specific geographical location. Consider, for example, communication about road closures and detours, which is being tested within the Talking Traffic Partnership and the European Socrates 2.0 project.

This also offers the opportunity to focus on personalized traffic management, whereby users receive different advice at the same location in order to distribute the traffic flow over different detours in order to evenly distribute the pressure on the network. In this way, added value is created for road users, and as a result they will be more inclined to use the communication channels through which road authorities distribute their travel and traffic information.

Quality requirements

Ultimately, it is unavoidable that road users will receive travel and traffic information from sources other than the road authority itself. To prevent this information from causing dangerous situations or having negative effects on the network, their positioning allows road managers to enter into cooperation with the traffic information industry to establish quality requirements for travel and traffic information services. For example, attention is paid at European level to this subject within platforms such as the EU ITS Platform and the C-Roads Platform.

Hélène van Heijningen

‘Growing interaction between man and technology within traffic and transport systems fascinates me. With an eye for both people and the future, I look for concrete solutions for increasingly complex mobility issues.’

Advisor Transport & Mobility
+31 (0)6 333 056 40