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Traffic lights and a camera attached to a metal post as part of traffic safety technology

Innovations in Traffic Technology: Enhancing Road Safety for All

Road safety remains a top priority and concern for governments, urban planners, and citizens as population densities increase, requiring innovative solutions to address traffic concerns. Fortunately, technology advancements are enhancing road safety and overall traffic flow efficiency. We’ll explore some of the latest road safety innovations and how they protect drivers and help prevent accidents.

Current Challenges in Road Safety

Before we explore the different types of traffic safety technology, it may help to understand what road safety challenges society faces. Enforcing and even encouraging road safety on a global scale requires innovative solutions for a variety of challenges, including:

  • Distracted driving
  • Drunk driving
  • Speeding
  • Infrastructure
  • Vulnerable road users
  • Vehicle safety
  • Drowsy driving
  • Enforcement of traffic laws

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)

Intelligent Transportation Systems, also known as smart traffic systems, is a software or program designed to enhance the efficiency and safety of traffic. It’s a wireless network that enables cars, trucks, buses, traffic signals, and other infrastructure to communicate and share valuable traffic information. It is implemented through various technologies including sensors, cameras, communication systems (such as satellites), data analytics, and traffic control systems.

Intelligent Transportation Systems also look to shorten the time it takes to relay traffic data between systems. This is particularly beneficial for managing and monitoring traffic, where traffic signals can be updated to help with traffic flow or provide an optimal, alternative route.

Examples of Intelligent Transportation Systems

Connected vehicles stuck in traffic at sunset
  • Traffic Management Systems: A technology that plans, controls, and monitors traffic flow. It automatically helps set traffic speeds or redirect traffic in the event of an accident or traffic-related disruption.
  • Connected Vehicles: A vehicle built with internet access, allowing it to share data—such as hazards—with other internet-connected vehicles and infrastructures.
  • Advanced Traveler Information Systems (ATIS): ATIS provides real-time information about road conditions, road closures, alternative routes, and public transportation options through mobile apps, variable message signs, and websites.
  • Transportation Management Centers (TMC): The main hub or center that monitors, controls, and responds to traffic conditions.

Collision Avoidance Technology

As the name implies, Collision Avoidance Technology is a safety technology that detects, predicts, and prevents traffic accidents by preemptively alerting road users of a possible incident through the use of visual, audible, and sensory cues such as flashing lights, a beeping notification, or vibrations. In certain situations, it can also override the driver’s actions moments before the accident occurs.

Examples of Collision Avoidance Technology

Collision Avoidance Technology encompasses various systems and features. Let’s look at several examples:

  1. Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB): AEB systems use sensors—such as radar, lidar, or cameras—to detect obstacles, vehicles, or pedestrians in the vehicle’s path. If the system detects a collision is about to happen and the driver does not react in time, it can automatically apply the brakes to reduce the severity of the impact or avoid it altogether.
  2. Forward Collision Warning (FCW): FCW systems alert drivers when they are approaching another vehicle or obstacle too quickly. The system uses sensors to monitor the distance and relative speed between these objects ahead and alerts the driver using visuals or audible warnings to take evasive action.
  3. Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane-Keeping Assist (LKA): The LDW system warns drivers when they unintentionally drift out of their lane. If this occurs, the LKA system can intervene by gently steering the vehicle back into its lane if the driver does not respond to the warnings.
  4. Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM): BSM systems, or blind spot detection, use sensors to detect vehicles in the driver’s blind spots and notify the driver if it is unsafe to switch lanes.
  5. Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA): This system detects and warns the driver of approaching vehicles and pedestrians behind the vehicle when reversing out of a driveway or parking space.
  6. Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC): The ACC system maintains a set speed for the driver’s vehicle while adjusting its speed to sustain a safe following distance from cars ahead. This technology uses sensors to automatically slow down or accelerate the vehicle to avoid rear-end collisions in traffic.
  7. Intersection Collision Warning (ICW): An ICW system monitors intersections for potential collisions by detecting vehicles approaching from other directions. It can warn drivers or automatically apply the brakes if there’s a crash risk when entering an intersection.
  8. Pedestrian Detection Systems: These systems use sensors and advanced algorithms to detect pedestrians near the vehicle, issue warnings to the driver, and apply the brakes if necessary to prevent a collision.
  9. Back-Up Camera: A camera that helps the driver to see what is behind their vehicle when reversing.

Traffic Control Systems

An overhead view of connected vehicles driving on a junction interchange

Traffic Control Systems refers to technologies and infrastructure designed to manage and help regulate traffic flow on roads, highways, and intersections. They play a critical role in improving road safety and the efficiency of transportation systems. Here are some common and recognizable examples of Traffic Control Systems:

  • Traffic Signals/Traffic Lights: A widely recognized traffic control system that uses colored lights (red, yellow, and green) to regulate traffic movement and pedestrians at intersections for improved safety. Traffic signals can automatically adjust signal times to accommodate current traffic patterns (Adaptive Traffic Signal Control). 
  • Traffic Signs: Signs (regulatory and warning signs) that convey important information to drivers about speed limits, lane usage, directional guidance, and potential hazards. 
  • Pavement Markings: Similar to traffic signs, pavement markings—such as lanes, arrows, and crosswalks—provide visual cues to drivers and help direct traffic.
  • Variable Message Signs (VMS): Electronic road signs display real-time information to motorists concerning traffic conditions, travel times, road closures, detours, and emergency messages. These help drivers make informed decisions and adjust their routes accordingly.
  • Ramp Metering Systems: Ramp metering systems are traffic signals that manage the rate of vehicles entering the freeway on-ramp. This system helps reduce traffic congestion and accidents.
  • Driver Feedback Signs (Radar):Driver feedback signs are traffic calming devices that alert the driver of their current speed, encouraging them to reduce or maintain a specific speed limit.

Where to Find Quality Smart Traffic Systems & Traffic Safety Technology

From road safety innovations to efficient traffic flow management, we’ve explored some amazing advancements aimed at protecting road users. If you’re seeking high-quality, smart traffic systems or traffic safety technology, look no further than Interwest Safety. With over 40 years of experience, we’ve been a trusted supplier of traffic safety equipment and supplies to government agencies and highway construction companies. Choose Interwest Safety for your road project needs!

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