Innovation

Innovation in the Roadway Safety Industry

Outsiders of the transportation infrastructure industry may look to autonomous vehicles as an icon of innovation on the roadways, but for state Department of Transportation (DOT) officials, manufacturers, suppliers, and contractors in the roadway safety and infrastructure industry, innovation is not a stationary achievement. It is much more than a mile marker and not as easily defined.

With different perspectives and priorities, industry stakeholders are finding that in addition to new technologies, innovation is heavily reliant on communication between entities. Industry leaders are working together to move forward and ATSSA is no different. The association works year-round to progress and develop creative solutions for all of its initiatives including highlighting innovative products and technologies, training, and ATSSA membership.


One innovative effort ATSSA is involved in is a joint initiative with the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Standing Committee on Traffic Control Devices (AHB50). Both ATSSA and TRB sponsor and conduct an exciting design competition, the Traffic Control Device (TCD) Student Challenge, to promote innovation and stimulate ideas in the traffic control devices area with a goal to improve operations and safety.


Find recent updates on the latest innovations in the resource list below and be sure to check back for updates. 

Resources

Highway automation: How ATSSA members play an important role

CAVs will need to better communicate with roadway devices and infrastructure

Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs) rely heavily on ATSSA member products such as pavement markings, signs, and traffic control devices. These products will be an essential factor in the advancement of CAVs and critical in moving toward zero deaths on our roadways.

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), highway automation is a blossoming frontier for many transportation departments that will affect the roadway devices and infrastructure utilized in localities.

“Automated vehicles have the potential to transform the nation's roadways significantly,” states the FHWA website. “They offer potential safety benefits but also introduce uncertainty for the agencies responsible for the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the roadway infrastructure.”

Many initiatives are being carried out to strengthen the communication between
CAVs, traffic control devices, and roadway infrastructure. One example is the FHWA’s National Dialogue on Highway Automation, in which ATSSA has participated.

“Participating in the National Dialogue on Highway Automation was a prime example of the direction members of the transportation industry
need to focus on,” said ATSSA Director of New Programs Brian Watson. “Our members play an important role in the advancement to vehicle automation. It’s important to carry on these discussions with auto manufacturers, public agencies, and the transportation community to discuss how we can produce and apply traffic control devices and maintain roadway infrastructure to optimize CAV performance.”

Additionally, ATSSA has been collaborating with the Automotive Safety Council (ASC). Doug Campbell, the council’s president, said that collaborations between members of the automotive industry and the roadway safety infrastructure industry are vital to the progression of highway automation.\

“For the first time in history, we have the roadway infrastructure and vehicle safety sides working together to come up with solutions to improve safety for motorists and to enable CAVs in the future,” Campbell said. “It's been a great learning experience for both groups to come together and understand how each other's products interface and discuss what we can do together going forward.”

ASC has attended three different ATSSA meetings, and the association has been to two of the ASC’s council meetings. Campbell said these initial discussions have been a positive start to further technologies and policies that will further enable highway automation.

“Teaming up together to come up with improved traffic control devices and roadway infrastructure that is uniform across the 50 states will allow the vehicles to use their sensors better—we think is a significant step forward,” Campbell said. 

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