Intelligent driving technology has the potential to save lives, reduce crashes and alert drivers of upcoming hazards, but officials need to consider infrastructure-related issues when implementing these new innovations.
Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Bill Panos testified about the impacts to highway infrastructure from the implementation of connected and automated vehicles during a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on June 13 in Washington, D.C. U.S. Sen. John Barrasso chairs the committee.
Panos is chairman of the Committee on Transportation System Operations for the American Associations of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). He spoke on behalf of WYDOT and AASHTO, which represents the state departments of transportation.
“These new technologies have the potential to decrease crashes and fatalities significantly and positively influence the safety of not only vehicle occupants, but also highway maintenance and construction workers, bicyclists, and pedestrians,” Panos told the committee. “Connected and automated vehicles are in our future and we want the infrastructure to be ready and safer than it has ever been when they are deployed. If deployed properly, this technology will save lives.”
Panos emphasized that safety is the ultimate goal when it comes to transportation infrastructure in states. New technologies like connected and automated vehicles will be another way safety will improve on the nation’s roads. With that technology eventually becoming more common, officials need to start planning and researching now.
Panos said states like Wyoming are currently testing new safety technology. Wyoming is one of only three locations in the nation to participate in the Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program.
As part of that program, WYDOT received a federal grant to install connected vehicle technology, which will use vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure and infrastructure-to-vehicle connectivity to communicate road information and alert motorists about issues along Interstate 80.
“The Wyoming pilot program will test new safety technology, such as advanced forward collision warnings, to let travelers know of crashes ahead,” Panos said. “It will also provide immediate situational awareness warnings about weather alerts, speed restrictions, parking availability, and so forth; detailed and current work zone warnings; specialized spot weather impact warnings for ice, fog, and other hazards; and notifications from disabled vehicles.”