Blog Archives

System uses smartphone app to warn drivers of high-risk curves

MnDOT2018-12Lane-departure crashes on curves make up a significant portion of fatal crashes on rural Minnesota roads. To improve safety, solutions are needed to help drivers identify upcoming curves and inform them of a safe speed for navigating the curve.

“Traditionally there are two ways to do this: with either static signage or with dynamic warning signs,” says Brian Davis, a research fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. “However, while signing curves can help, static signage is often disregarded by drivers, and it is not required for roads with low average daily traffic. Dynamic speed signs are very costly, which can be difficult to justify, especially for rural roads with low traffic volumes.”

In a recent project led by Davis, researchers developed a method of achieving dynamic curve warnings while avoiding costly infrastructure-based solutions. To do so, they used in-vehicle technology to display dynamic curve-speed warnings to the driver based on the driver’s real-time behavior and position relative to the curve.

Posted in Rural transportation, Safety, Technology, Transportation research

U of M researchers to begin new roadway safety projects

U of M researchers have received funding from the Roadway Safety Institute for nine new projects focused on advancing roadway safety. Topics range from developing a course on automated vehicle technologies to improving EMS response on American Indian reservations.

The newly funded projects are specifically focused on moving current Institute research toward implementation, positioning its researchers for future opportunities, or developing educational initiatives. Projects were required to fall under the Institute’s research focus areas of rail-crossing safety, safety on tribal lands, bicycle and pedestrian safety, connected vehicles, or safety policy.

Posted in Safety, Transportation research

Roadway Safety Institute seminar series begins January 18

The Roadway Safety Institute’s seminar series kicks off this week! Join us for the first seminar on January 18 to hear how University of Minnesota researchers have designed in-vehicle systems for high-risk drivers.

The series, held on Thursdays from 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Central, features leading roadway safety researchers in a wide range of disciplines. Seminars are free and open to anyone interested in learning more about transportation safety research. Undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and practitioners are encouraged to attend.

Posted in Events, Safety, Transportation research

Autonomous vehicles and traffic safety: promises and challenges

Jim HedlundTo prepare for autonomous vehicles (AVs), states have complex challenges to address—not the least of which is anticipating a mix of AVs and regular vehicles on their roads for decades. During the TZD statewide conference October 26, Jim Hedlund, principal of Highway Safety North, shared this and other findings from a recent report he authored for the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.

AVs are not necessarily driver-less. Rather, these vehicles are classified on a scale ranging from Level 1, which use established technologies such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance but still give control to the driver, to Level 5, which are completely self-driving at all times.

When all vehicles are autonomous, Hedlund said, transportation will become a service, rather than something people own, and crashes will be greatly reduced, since currently about 94 percent of crashes are caused by human error. But predicting just how quickly AVs will be adopted is complicated.

Posted in Events, Safety, Technology

In-vehicle warnings show promise for improving work-zone safety

work-zone road signWork zones can be dangerous for both drivers and the work crew—but U of M researchers are working on innovative ways to lessen these risks and lower the rate of work-zone crashes. In a new study funded by MnDOT, researchers investigated the potential advantages and possible disadvantages of vehicle-to-infrastructure in-vehicle messages to communicate to drivers.

“When we started this project, we saw a potential for drivers to become more aware and responsive to hazards within the work-zone by presenting the information directly to them through in-vehicle messaging technologies,” says Nichole Morris, director of the U’s HumanFIRST Laboratory, who led the project. “We also wanted to assess the extent to which this type of messaging could lead to driver distraction, as numerous studies have demonstrated the hazards of distracted driving, particularly from interacting with on-board technologies.”

The researchers began by identifying ideal design guidelines for any in-vehicle messaging system. Then, the team conducted a survey to uncover driver attitudes in Minnesota toward work-zone safety, smartphone use, and the potential for receiving messages through in-vehicle technologies such as smartphones.

Posted in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Safety, Technology, Transportation research

CTS receives ITS Minnesota achievement award

CTS was honored to receive this year’s Local Agency Technology Initiative Award from ITS Minnesota at the organization’s Fall Forum on October 17. The annual award recognizes a local agency for their achievements in advancing ITS technology in Minnesota.

According to ITS Minnesota, CTS received the 2017 award for outstanding contributions to the ITS community through the research and development of new strategies to improve the safety and efficiency of travel throughout Minnesota.

Posted in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Safety, Transportation research

Untangling the safety impacts of Minnesota’s I-35W improvements

MnPASS system on I-35W in Minneapolis, Minnesota.With the aim of reducing congestion on the Twin Cities’ highly traveled I-35W corridor between the Minnesota River and I-94, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) began a major set of I-35W improvements in 2009 as part of the Federal Highway Administration’s Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA). Among the improvements was the addition of a priced dynamic shoulder lane (PDSL) on parts of the 17-mile stretch of highway; however, following the opening of these improvements, the frequency of rear-end crashes increased in certain sections—especially in the PDSL regions.

To untangle the underlying causes of this increase, MnDOT enlisted the help of researchers in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering. “Our primary objective was to determine if these increases were direct effects of the improvements or if they were due to changes in the traffic conditions,” says Professor Gary Davis, the principal investigator. “MnDOT was interested in extending some or all of these improvements to other corridors but needed to know what the safety impacts were to aid its decision making.”

Posted in Infrastructure, Safety, Technology, Traffic operations, Transportation research, Urban transportation
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