Vodafone aims to prevent traffic accidents before they happen with the launch of a vast mobile alert system providing instant updates on the nation’s roads.
The mobile operator’s new network hopes to cut traffic jams and travel times by sending data on crashes and delays in real time to car navigation systems and smartphone apps.
Developers of the system believe it could eventually stop potential accidents, such as alerting a driver’s information system of a pedestrian who is about to step out onto the road.
The service known as Safer Transport for Europe (STEP) will share data between mobile users, motorists, transport authorities, breakdown recovery firms and the emergency services to create a detailed picture of the road network.
Luke Ibbetson of Vodafone said the system had the potential to send a crash alert to pedestrians, cyclists, other drivers and ambulance services as soon as a vehicle’s airbag is triggered.
He said the very same data would also be monitored by the road authorities, who could begin rerouting traffic within seconds of an accident occurring.
The system is based on the technology that could eventually usher in driverless cars, which use a constant stream of data from sensors to communicate with their other vehicles and their surroundings.
Developers believe it could also be used effectively on smart motorways, which have faced calls to be shut down due a number of deaths linked to stranded motorists.
Trials of Vodafone’s “vehicle-to-everything” platform will start in Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton, where alerts from Highways England will be sent to smartphones.
Google already uses smartphone data to send traffic information to its Google Maps app, but Vodafone believes its system will be faster and more accurate because the data will be processed through a dedicated command centre.
Vehicle position data will be sent 10 times a second from motorists using the service, creating a live stream of how fast traffic is moving, or whether a vehicle has broken down.
Vodafone said STEP would be free to use and would work on all vehicle sat navs and map apps that partner on the project.
It said all data would be anonymised and begin by underpinning messages on lane closures, speed restrictions and traffic accidents.
The system will also help alert lorry drivers to cyclists and pedestrians that are out of view and help track down stolen vehicles.