Researchers at the University of Buffalo have shown that car drivers can help to save the environment by taking a different route without significantly slowing their travel time.
Scientists from a handful of universities across the United States are working on this project called ‘green routing’. Among them are scientists from the University of Buffalo. The project is essentially about how worthwhile it would be to choose the route of least emissions. The researchers believe that if a large amount of drivers alternate their routes it could make a huge difference to the environment. The method would not take as long to implement as for instance, replacing all vehicles with hybrid cars. Not everybody can afford these relatively expensive changes.
Allthough the greenest route is not always the fastest one, it would save fuel and reduce emissions. According to the Buffalo scientists the green route in the Buffalo region is only about 11% longer on average than the fastest route.
The Buffalo reseachers found that green routing could reduce overall emissions of carbon monoxide by 27% for area drivers. Funneling cars along surface streets instead of freeways helped for instance to limit fuel consumption. Intelligently targeting travelers was another strategy that worked: Rerouting just one fifth of drivers (those who would benefit most from a new path) reduced regional emissions by about 20%. This was because if everybody would start taking the green path, it would not in fact be the green path anymore.
For all of this to work, designers need to take into account the entire system of a city’s moving traffic, so that at any given moment, cars would be in some kind of green-routing equilibrium. Live data on route emissions and traffic patterns is only now enabling researchers to figure out how all this might come together in an application in your car.