Roadway Safety 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.

Exhibit at ATSSA's Annual Traffic Expo


Do you have an innovative roadway safety product? Exhibitors can showcase their innovations in the New Products Rollout at the Annual Convention & Traffic Expo. Products released after Jan. 1 of this year qualify for entry. Twenty will be accepted for the New Product Listing and just 12 will be accepted for presentation to a panel of judges. The top three products will earn an Innovation Award that will be announced during the Convention.

Learn more
about featuring your innovative product to key industry professionals. View videos of last year's entries and award winners.



CAT Coalition working group shares research on AV issues, primer plans

Participants share impacts of AVs on highway infrastructure and report on U.S. readiness

Members of the Cooperative Automated Transportation Coalition Infrastructure-Industry (CAT I-I) Working Group shared recently that they are assembling a primer with acronyms and definitions for autonomous vehicle (AV) and connected vehicle (CV) infrastructure and technology.

The primer is not the first of its kind but intended to “bridge the gap” between Infrastructure Owner-Operators (IOOs) and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) practitioners, according to the CAT I-I working group members.

The CAT I-I group is co-chaired by Tracy Larkin-Thomason, vice president of Policy Programs and Mobility on Demand with ITS America, and Ed Bradley, program manager for Toyota Motor North America and treasurer of the ITS America Board of Directors. Jeremy Schroeder, a transportation engineer at Athey Creek Consultants, staff from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and other group members are providing support for the primer’s development.

The primer will provide a starting point for practitioners and may be modified over time, the authors said. The working group is collecting feedback on the draft version this month. Once finalized, the primer will be posted on the CAT Coalition website and available for use.

The CAT Coalition’s mission is to provide a focal point for local, state and federal government officials as well as people in academia, industry and associations. It includes seven working groups that tackle technical issues related to deployment of CAVs in the U.S. Members represent IOOs, OEMs, technology and service providers and suppliers for the internet of things (IOT).

The working group met online March 25. The meeting also included presentations by Ted Hamer, managing director at KPMG Corporate Finance, and Paul Carlson, chief technology officer at Road Infrastructure Inc.

Hamer presented KPMG’s 2020 Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (AVRI), which ranks the U.S. fourth among the top five countries in the world. The other four within the top five, in order of readiness, are Singapore, the Netherlands, Norway and Finland.

The index is based on the following four pillars as well as 28 variables:

  • Policy and legislation
  • Technology and innovation
  • Infrastructure
  • Consumer acceptance


According to the 2020, report:

  • The U.S. is second only to Israel on the technology and innovation pillar.
  • Cities including Detroit and Pittsburgh are undertaking innovative work to introduce and promote AVs.
  • American technology companies and vehicle makers continue to dominate AV development.


The AVRI rates 30 countries and jurisdictions on their readiness for autonomous vehicles and is available for download.

Carlson spoke about the "Impacts of Automated Vehicles on Highway Infrastructure", a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) project, that recently resulted in the publication of a report and a three-webinar series:


The following are some of the project's findings on the impacts of AV deployment in three functional areas (traffic control devices, Infrastructure and operations, and agency readiness), reported by Carlson:

  1. Traffic Control Devices:
    • Need for a uniform application of pavement markings.
    • Need for consistent pavement marking maintenance practices.
    • Need for a contrast marking patterns standards (specific to light-colored pavements)
    • Diligence in sign positioning to avoid "confusion" by AVs (particularly speed limit signs and stop signs on freeways)
  2. Infrastructure and Operations:
    • Interoperability Challenges - Digital signing can be problematic for some in-vehicle camera systems.
    • Heavy vehicles equipped with lane-centering technologies may accelerate pavement rutting
    • Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) would play an important role as early AV deployment may increase traffic congestion
  3. Agency AV-readiness (State DOTs concerns):
    • More guidance and standards are needed.
    • Inadequate condition for AV deployment on some roads
    • Additional funding will be needed
    • Lack of maintenance plan/funding
    • AV industry rapidly changing making it unstable
    • Low public confidence


Some State DOTs have taken actions to prepare for a safe and efficient AV deployment by:

  • Engaging with AV developers/OEMs
  • Undertaking strategic planning
  • Training staff and upgrading intelligent transportation systems (ITS) equipment
  • Updating standards and policies (e.g., pavement marking policies)
  • Conducting targeted research


ATSSA Innovation & Technical Services Manager Nagham Matout authored this blog.

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