By Emily Gerson
So far, we’ve discussed technologies you may have seen (pavement markings or speed feedback signs), and ones you can't see (fiber and ethernet connections); now it's time for technology you actively experience as a driver. From dynamic signs, to travel time estimates and maps routing, you experience more technology-based traffic engineering than you may realize. This is the final part of the 3-part series on Technology and Your Drive.
Dynamic Message Signs (DMSs)
Large, digital signs called DMSs often hang over well-trafficked highways to notify drivers of changing conditions or news. These messages can change moment-to-moment and topics range from upcoming work zones and weather warnings to seatbelt reminders and Amber Alerts. Because messages can change so quickly to reflect the needs of the area, they are a great way to inform drivers of nonrecurring events that could affect their drive. Additionally, their size makes them difficult for drivers to miss. Operators can update messages remotely from Traffic Management Centers (TMCs).
Bluetooth technology is used to track travel time and keep it consistent from day-to-day. Installed Bluetooth travel time devices “devices pick up Bluetooth signals from mobile phones and match unique IDs between the devices to measure speed and travel time along corridors,” according to Devin Joslin, Traffic Operations Division Manager. This technology allows some travel times to be displayed on DMSs and agencies to perform analysis of event or incident impacts along corridors.
Real-time traveler information can now be communicated easily in multiple ways. TMC operators can update DMSs to alert drivers of incidents or road closures, navigation applications suggest alternate routes when congestion is detected, and websites such as CDOT’s CoTrip allow for trip planning based on up-to-date route conditions
Blank out signs
Another piece of technology that works to draw driver attention is blank out signs. The signs are connected to sensors and when the sensors go off, the signs will light up with a message specific for the drivers who tripped the sensor. Most traditionally, this technology is used to mitigate wrong-way driving. Wrong-way detection and blank out signs can minimize injuries and fatalities and are an effective, technology-driven communication method for drivers.
Overall, technology allows more driver-focused communications than it seems. These communications help to keep drivers as safe as possible and ensure their drive is as efficient as possible.