I was driving back home to the suburbs from class this balmy Houston evening on Westheimer road.
West of Interstate 610, Westheimer is 8 lanes wide with a turn lane down the middle. The lights are timed in such a way that if one drives 40 mph they will get all green lights and never have to stop.
When everything is going smoothly, drivers can set their cruise control to 40 and all they have to do is stay in their lane.
However, not all people realize this and many simply don't pay attention. This leads to vehicles which are moving off the optimal speed which cause other drivers to have to brake and turn off their cruise control.
This evening it occured to me that if drivers were advised as to what speed they *should* be going, as opposed to the maximum allowable speed, more drivers would go that speed and traffic could possibly flow much more smoothly.
Below, or perhaps even instead of, Speed Limit signs could be Dynamic Optimal Speed Displays. These displays would have an array of lights which indicate the optimal driving speed and can change depending on traffic, construction, and weather conditions which would be assessed using the various cameras and sensors already placed throughout the street.
The optimal speed would be calculated as the maximum speed at which the current number of vehicles on the road can travel given current conditions and still allow a safe stopping distance from the vehicles in front of them in the event of any unexpected event.
In addition to boulevards and other streets with timed stoplights, these displays could also greatly improve traffic flow on freeways and other highways.