Technology to warn wrong way drivers

Wrong way driving crashes account for over 300 traffic deaths in the United States each year. The Texas Department Of Transportation has teamed up with other research institutions to find ways to better warn wrong-way drivers. They hope these technological advancements will be in our vehicles in the next few years.


Wrong-way driving crashes account for more than 300 traffic deaths in the United States every year.

The Texas Department of Transportation has teamed up with other research institutions to find ways to better warn wrong-way drivers.

They hope these technological advancements will be in our vehicles in the next few years.

Take a look.

Well, where it started for us at TxDOT back in March of 2011, Officer Stephanie Brown was killed in a head-on crash with a wrong-way driver.

At that point, as you can imagine, a lot of the people around town, some of the politicians, police, mostly everybody we deal with on a regular basis started asking us what can we do to try and combat this problem.

So ever since then, we've been studying and researching and putting different types of devices out on the roadway to try and prevent wrong-way driving in San Antonio.

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute is leading this research effort for the Texas Department of Transportation in which Southwest Research Institute is our partner, and we are looking at connected-vehicle technologies to combat wrong-way driving.

This is technology that will be available in future automobiles.

This is connected-vehicle capabilities.

It's using the dedicated short- range communication radios that are shown here.

This is our research pod.

This is the kind of equipment that we put together in order to show applied technologies for things that are coming up in the next, say, 5 years.

So, we really expect it to be able to connect us to our environment, and that can help by giving us alerts in the vehicle.

That's really what we're looking at with this wrong-way driving issue.

What we have now are a lot of technologies that are on the side of the road that can warn the wrong-way driver themselves, but we have limited capability of warning the other right-way drivers that may be impacted by that wrong-way vehicle.

We can use dynamic message signs, but they're in only certain locations, and so once we get those messages in the vehicles when they're connected, we'll be able to notify more folks more quickly and hopefully save lives.

This is providing position, heading, and speed of all vehicles and is broadcasting that over the dedicated short-range communication channels to other vehicles, to infrastructure devices and then ultimately to a traffic management authority.

In this scenario, where you're trying to look for wrong-way drivers and trying to stop wrong-way drivers, saving minutes could mean saving lives, so the fact that we could get a connected vehicle that could get that information to us almost instantly or to police almost instantly, you could be saving, you know, untold lives.

Cameron Mott shows us how a computerized map will alert a traffic management center when a wrong-way driving event occurs.

In this case, it's been detected and has shown up as a warning for folks to recognize that there is something to be watchful of.

And on the screen, you see the indication of where the vehicle is at that time and where it is traveling, so the folks at the traffic management center can get a response plan activated and so that drivers on the road can recognize and appropriately respond to a wrong-way driver on their road.

And in this example, we also see what would show up to folks that are interested in a... They're seeing, for example, the dynamic message sign and recognize that there is a concern that they need to be watchful for on the roadways.

This is an example of the display that would be in a future automobile.

This would be integrated in with the infotainment system in the future.

This is just our research efforts to show what it might look like as somebody makes the incorrect decision, maybe got confused and ends up turning right onto what should be a left-turn-only and driving the wrong direction.

Wow, that came up immediately.

The technology provides for instantaneous feedback to drivers, both the wrong-way driver and for right-way drivers that are on the roadway near them.

As a right-way driver just traveling on a roadway that another wrong-way driver is traveling on, they also get an alert immediately that shows them that there is a scenario that they need to be watching out for.

It also shows them exactly what road they're on in this case with the examples and the technology that is provided through this effort, and the wrong-way driver has recognized that they are going the wrong direction.

They've alleviated the problem, and the right-way driver can continue on.

So when will this technology be inside our vehicles?

So right now there are vehicles that have connected-vehicle technologies in them, and we expect more to come about in the next 5 to 10 years.

We're really waiting on some regulations to be passed by the government and some other things that would get these technologies in the cars more quickly, but we do have some that are out there today.

We'll continue to see them in the future.

We'll see a dramatic decrease in the wrong-way driving scenarios that occur on Texas roadways, and the ones that do, there will be actionable information available to address the problem quickly, to put law enforcement officers onto the scenario and to keep our roadways safer and America's travelers.