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

Will Connected and Autonomous Vehicles change the landscape of signage standardization?

Will Connected and Autonomous Vehicles change the landscape of signage standardization?

By ATSSA Director of New Programs Brian Watson

On June 19, 2019 at the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) Task Force Meeting, updates on signage and pavement marking uniformity were the main topics of discussion. With CAVs entering U.S. roadways every day, the need for uniformity is growing exponentially. Transformational technologies on CAVs raise new questions for groups like the NCUTCD, such as signage that appears on the exterior of CAVs. For instance, many CAV manufacturers have their own signage displays on the exterior of the vehicle that alert human drivers and pedestrians of the CAV’s intentions on the roadway. 
 

The signs aren’t just telling others what the vehicle is doing, it is telling others how to behave, such as pedestrians at a crosswalk. The exterior vehicle signage acts as a traffic control device in these instances. On-vehicle signage notifies the individuals entering the crosswalk that crossing the street is safe. According to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), “The MUTCD is incorporated in regulations, approved by the FHWA, and recognized as the national standard for traffic control devices used on all streets, highways, bikeways, and private roads open to public travel.”
 

The question the NCUTCD is trying to answer is whether these signs should be standardized under the MUTCD. Many auto manufacturers are placing patents on their own exterior vehicle signs which may cause confusion for human drivers and other vulnerable road users due to lack of consistency between the various sign messages among auto manufacturers. To see a video example of signage on CAVs, view a video from drive.ai. This, and topics such as these are the hot discussion points at this year’s meeting; so much so that an additional an task force has been created that will look into signage and CAVs. The group held their first meeting on June 18. For more information on the NCUTCD or infrastructure standards, visit ncutcd.org.
 

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