Smart technology has been a part of public infrastructure for years, whether or not you may have noticed it. From highway electronic messaging, pedestrian crosswalk buttons, cruise control systems, and blind spot detection, advances in roadway technology have made a real difference for everyone on the road. Forward Collision Warnings with Automatic Emergency Braking (both technology-based safety systems) reduce rear-end crashes by 39%1. In the Town Center Community Improvement District (CID), 47 intersections use SCATS, an adaptive traffic control system that has assisted with traffic flow on roadways and at interstate interchanges.
As with any technology, smart roadway practices are evolving rapidly. They have become a living, interactive system connecting vehicles, traffic signals, mobile devices and more. Using wireless communications like 5G networks, connected vehicle technology monitors real-time roadway information to reduce crashes, protect walkers and tone down congestion. It has the potential to transform transportation across private vehicles, emergency vehicles, freight, transit and pedestrians.
In the coming years, we will see smart tech improve road safety in many ways. Here are three prominent examples:
Emergency Vehicle Preemption
With emergency vehicle preemption (EVP), emergency response vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks can trigger traffic signals to allow them to move through a crowded intersection. The emergency vehicles use radios and sensors to adjust intersection lights, which can improve response times, ensure other drivers are where they need to be, and increase their ability to save lives.2
Transit Signal Priority
Transit Signal Priority works in much the same way as EVP to reduce traffic congestion. Municipal transit like buses, trams and trolleys can coordinate with and control traffic signals, which can make their schedules more reliable for users while freeing up the roads for other vehicles.
Pedestrian in Crosswalk Detection
With Crosswalk Detection in vehicles, cars will be able to cut down drivers’ blind spots by sensing if there is a person in the crosswalk. This technology is a significant upgrade for those who enjoy traveling on foot. These vulnerable road users (other at-risk travelers include cyclists and motorcyclists) account for more than half of all road traffic deaths.
“Connected Vehicles Can Sense and Communicate Things Drivers Cannot”
Timing is Everything
Now that we’ve introduced you to a few types of connected vehicle technology, you may be wondering what you will actually see on the roads. The truth is, integrated technology is already here.
Auto manufacturers are getting ready to produce new connected safety systems in their upcoming models.3 Also, municipalities across metro Atlanta are preparing for 5G networks and approving funding for signal light enhancements, so Emergency Vehicle Preemption and Transit Signal Priority will be more beneficial. These are prime circumstances to implement the first smart corridor in Cobb County.
The Town Center CID is dedicated to improving safety, walkability, mobility and quality of life, which are the central concerns of our stakeholders. Therefore, we presented Cobb County and the Atlanta Regional Commission with an idea for a connected technology project along the Chastain Road corridor, which would see the most significant impact from smart upgrades. Why?
Chastain Road has:
- Student housing
- Multi-family residences
- International Airport
- Office parks
- Access to two major interstates
- Pedestrians and cyclists
- University shuttles
- Local transit stops
What other connected technology would you like to see in Town Center?
2. Images courtesy of https://www.its.dot.gov/infographs/index.htm