Imagine that you’re driving to work as usual when your smartphone announces, “Caution, you are approaching an active work zone.” You slow down and soon spot orange barrels and highway workers on the road shoulder. Thanks to a new app being developed by University of Minnesota researchers, this scenario is on its way to becoming reality.
“Drivers often rely on signs along the roadway to be cautious and slow down as they approach a work zone. However, most work-zone crashes are caused by drivers not paying attention,” says Chen-Fu Liao, senior systems engineer at the U’s Minnesota Traffic Observatory. “That’s why we are working to design and test an in-vehicle work-zone alert system that announces additional messages through the driver’s smartphone or the vehicle’s infotainment system.”
As part of the project, sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Liao and his team investigated the use of inexpensive Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) tags to provide in-vehicle warning messages. The BLE tags were programmed to trigger spoken messages in smartphones within range of the tags, which were placed on construction barrels or lampposts ahead of a work zone.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month—a perfect time to remind all drivers to put safety first, put down their devices, and focus on driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed nearly 3,500 lives and injured approximately 391,000 people across the country in 2015. Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes.
At the University of Minnesota, efforts to reduce distracted driving range from research projects to education initiatives.
It’s National Work-Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), and this year’s campaign urges drivers to recognize that work-zone safety is in their hands. NWZAW is held each year in the spring to bring national attention to motorist and worker safety and mobility issues in work zones.
University of Minnesota researchers are always working on new solutions to help improve work-zone safety. Read the full post for examples of recent and ongoing projects.
The motor vehicle crash fatality rate is higher for American Indians than for any other ethnic or racial group in the United States. Although the number of fatal crashes decreased in the nation as a whole by about 21 percent from 1975–2013, it increased by about 35 percent on American Indian reservation roads.
“These are huge disparities,” says Associate Professor Kathryn Quick. “Clearly, this is an issue that needs to be explored.”
In a project sponsored by the Roadway Safety Institute, Quick and Research Associate Guillermo Narváez, both with the U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, are collaborating with American Indian communities to better understand the transportation safety risks on tribal lands and develop strategies to mitigate these risks.
On Saturday, Roadway Safety Institute (RSI) staff taught kids and their families how to “be seen and be safe” at Tech Fest, an annual event held at The Works Museum in Bloomington, Minnesota. The event, designed to inspire kids’ interest in engineering and technology, features hands-on activities and demos from the museum and its partners.
This year, kids explored RSI’s new permanent exhibit at the museum. The exhibit, which opened in late 2016, teaches visitors about reflectivity and why reflective clothing is critical for being seen by drivers at night.
Have you or one of your co-workers recently built an innovative gadget or developed an improved way to do a job? Show off your creativity and help other transportation agencies solve problems by submitting an entry to the Build a Better Mousetrap Competition!
The Minnesota Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP), housed at CTS, is participating in the 2017 contest, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration’s Local Technical Assistance Program and Tribal Technical Assistance Program.
Freeways and highways aren’t the only urban roads with traffic congestion, even though traffic management strategies have been largely directed toward improving traffic ﬂows there. So, U of M researchers have taken to city streets to reduce congestion in an innovative—albeit roundabout—way.
“There’s been a lot of research focused on controlling congestion on major highways and freeways, but there’s relatively less when it comes to looking at controlling traffic on urban arterials,” says Ted Morris, a research engineer with the Department of Computer Science. “It’s a very different picture when you get into urban arterials and the traffic behaviors going on there, because of the dynamics of route choice, pedestrian interactions, and other factors.”
Morris is part of a research team that aims to create a framework for testing and evaluating new urban traffic sensing and control strategies for arterial networks. The goal is to balance safety and efficiency for all users—especially in places where new types of urban transportation facilities are planned in the next few years