IMAGINE: Someday, people will talk about traffic accident fatalities as a thing of the past. Crashes will be eradicated, thanks to an onslaught of new technologies that eliminate human error behind the wheel, the cause of 90 percent of roadway mishaps today.
A new America thinks survey found 71 percent of Americans expect emerging technologies, such as connected and automated vehicles, to improve safety.
A zero-crash future is hugely compelling. It’s also only possible with the lightning-fast collection and processing of huge amounts of data. Connected vehicle-to-vehicle technologies sense the speed, direction, size, position and location of every other car nearby and use the data to assist human decision making.
In congested highway traffic, for example, you may not see a driver braking hard several car lengths ahead of you. But your connected car, communicating wirelessly with the vehicles around it, will sense the abrupt slowdown, alert you, and assist you in stopping your vehicle before a collision.
If cars don’t crash, vehicles can drive in platoons at high rates of speed and with less space between them. That means every lane of traffic in a congested city could carry three times its current capacity.
Combining vehicle connectivity and automation will deliver incredible change—undoubtedly the biggest change to mobility in America since the advent of the automobile itself.
The technology is here. Car-makers are beginning implementation. The time for public education is now. Drivers will need to understand where their personal information is going and how it will be used—especially considering 80 percent of Americans worry about privacy with new transportation technologies. The survey, however, also indicates that most would grant access to their travel and vehicle information if it guaranteed safer roads or lower gas prices.
National Safety Council statistics indicate that nearly 40,000 Americans may lose their lives in car accidents this year. With the technology available today that is proven to prevent fatal accidents, we have a moral obligation to implement it as quickly as possible. Businesses and governments, however, must work together to guarantee the privacy of personal travel data.
For further facts and insights, visit www.hntb.com.
Barbaresso is the practice leader of Intelligent Transportation Systems and emerging technologies for HNTB Corp., an infrastructure solutions firm.
North American Precis Syndicate