Forum, IEEE Spectrum                                                                         May 5, 1991.

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Dear Forum Editor:

 

Re: Spectrum May 1991; Smart Cars and Highways;...ITE (Institute of Traffic Engineers)

        In the next paragraph are my comments, on the referenced article of Mr. Jurgen, for your Forum. I also attached my article, written last November, which you may find worthy of publication as a separate article.

    Note to readers: None of my numerous technical articles advocating preventative Intelligent Vehicle and Highway Sisters, (IVHS) had been published, including IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (I am a Life Member) I believe by the influence of private commercial interests.

 

      I am deeply concerned about transportation safety. Highway accidents cause more deaths than USA casualties suffered in all the major wars she fought. Safety measures always improve efficiency, road capacity, and reduce environmental damage in a direct manner. Unfortunately many of the ongoing IVHS projects address traffic congestions by reacting to them after they have occurred.   Traffic accidents cause congestions tie-up traffic, as the IEEE article pointed out. They increase pollution, cost money due to lost working hours and fuel. They also cause a great deal of frustration, which adds other potential risks. According to Dr. Borkenstein (Prof. Emeritus, Indiana University. Forensic Science, the inventor of the Breathalyzer and other experts, about 75% of highway deaths and serious accidents have been caused by drunk drivers. None of the reported projects addresses the prevention of accidents and congestions caused by drunk and dangerous drivers, which could be undertaken by modern electronic technologies. 

      Traffic problems and inefficiencies should be addressed directly by preventative rather than reactive methods. This requires much greater federal governmental role in the creation of mandatory standards and safety devices, and financing. A great deal of money is spent by all levels of governments on advisory type IVHS projects, which react to traffic congestions, and many of those are duplications. A careful review of the ongoing and proposed projects will readily prove this assertion.   

      International cooperation to develop uniform traffic control devices, systems and global standards is also essential. This offers multiple benefits: road-vehicles would function equally well in any country with IVH Systems; uniformity increases driver awareness and reduces accidents; cost sharing of development would reduce the financial burden of the participants; and cooperation would increase the inventive human resources pool.

      The article described close cooperation between the nations of the European Common Market. They will have uniform traffic control devices and IVHS systems throughout Europe. This will allow smooth vehicle traffic flow on the highways, driving through all these countries. Japan is already cooperating with the Europeans. Standardization is an important issue in any country which wants to import IVHS compatible automobiles and trucks. It is also important for tourism. 

      The USA and Canada should extend their limited cooperation; establish a leading role in the creation of standards. Federal Governments can only accomplish this. We must establish uniformity, prepare for export markets of the future, and initiate global cooperation and elimination of duplications. The creation of an international authority is also important. It would create world-wide standards for road traffic, IVHS, and other transportation modes. The engineering community and IEEE in particular have an active role in shaping the future of IVHS and transportation in general. We have an ethical and a technical role to eliminate and prevent highway deaths and accidents. We should investigate the major causes of congestions, air pollution, and environmentally harmful spills of toxic, flammable, and explosive materials.

      We must find preventative solutions recommend and actively promote their implementations via Federal initiatives. Reacting to collisions caused traffic tie-ups is too late and much less effective than IVHS measures aimed at their prevention. In addition to the ethical mandate the prevention accidents, congestions, pollution, and direct methods to increase road capacity are far more effective than the multiplicity of reacting and advisory type IVHS projects reported. They make much better economic sense also. Few of the many reported projects by Spectrum, ITE (Traffic Engineering Journal, Nov. 1990), and Automotive Industries (March 91) belong to the positive most direct approaches of IVHS, which deserve the name of truly being "Intelligent" Vehicle Highway System solutions.