Telematics and Transport Policy: Making the Connection

Potter, Stephen (1997). Telematics and Transport Policy: Making the Connection. In: Droege, P ed. Intelligent Environments: Spatial Aspects of the Information Revolution. Amsterdam NL and Oxford UK: Elsevier, pp. 199–212.


In recent years transport issues have risen sharply in the political agenda of most countries. This is due to a number of disturbing aspects associated with the historical link between economic and traffic growth, not least of which is the growing realisation that environmental imperatives and continued traffic growth cannot be reconciled. The search is now on for policies and technologies that can decouple economic and traffic growth.

At the same time, a number of major telecommunication and IT developments have emerged, into which large sums of research money have been invested. Transport-related examples include in-car route guidance, parking and traffic information for motorists, advanced control systems for vehicles to replace manual driving, (involving automatically driven ‘convoys’ of vehicles), and road or congestion pricing.

A problem exists in that the transport telematic developments have been rooted in the old, unsustainable perspective of continued traffic growth. Indeed, many of the technologies being developed have the specific aim of overcoming barriers to further traffic growth. Rather than being used to try to decouple traffic growth from economic growth, these technologies reinforce the coupling even more. The failure for advances in telematics to be linked to advances in the transport policy debate presents a real danger of transport telematics being used in an ineffective and inappropriate manner.

This chapter explores the emerging gulf between advances in transport telematics and developments in the transport policy and addresses the question as to how the two could be reconciled.

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