New South African traffic light could shorten traffic jams

A Stellenbosch University student is testing a new traffic light which may cut traffic congestion times significantly.

Master’s degree student Wilko Mohr is developing a “sophisticated and tailor-made real-time computerised control system with cameras to synchronise traffic signals” along the R44 in Stellenbosch.

The project is running with permission from the municipality and aims to ease traffic jams.

“The project will initially cover eight intersections on the busiest stretch of the R44, from Helshoogte Road at Cloetesville in the north to the Van Reede Street crossing at Rhenish Primary School in the south,” said the university.

“The pilot phase might be extended to cover another two intersections and two signalised pedestrian crossings. The aim is to test the system in the first quarter of 2019, before eventually rolling it out across town.”

The system uses a combination of cameras at intersections and existing electromagnetic loops beneath the road surface.

These will detect traffic volume and flow, and this data is then fed into its system.

Automatic adjustments to traffic signals to get the traffic moving optimally will then take place, based on a custom algorithm from Mohr.

“This will be the first application in Africa of software developed by the PTV Group, a German company widely regarded as a global leader in the field,” added the university. This will be linked to traffic light controllers supplied by Syntell, a local company.

The PTV software is being operated internationally, and in a comparable setting in India – on a 3km road – average travel time has decreased by 26% and queue length by 37% thanks to a similar system.

Map of test route


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New South African traffic light could shorten traffic jams