TECHNOLOGY AND ROAD-SAFETY.
This article was never published during the years following the publication of the first professional article announcing the establishment of the IVHS program by DOT, in 1990. Yet I submitted submitted it to several professional journals, such as the Institute of Traffic Engineers, ITE, which had published several theoretical and research articles of mine in the past I am a life member (2007) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE, which also rejected my critique and positive suggestion for improvements. General Motors Research publication other professional publications didn't even respond to my manuscript sent to them.. In addition, a version of my original six page thesis was submitted for publication to the University of Quebec, Jim Lehrer of Public TV, the Tampa Tribune, Texas University Traffic Engineering, and several other media, but never was published, not even responded to. My inevitable conclusion is that private interests impeded the freedom of expression and silenced the media in regard this important safety issue.
A highly undesirable gap exists between the present state of road transportation safety, and what the future can hold, if the resourcefulness of the engineering community were appropriately supported. Modern technology offers several new methods to reduce traffic accidents, save lives, property, improve traffic flow efficiency, and protect the environment. Since 1990, several professional and scientific papers devoted their pages to Intelligent Vehicle/Highway Systems (IVHS). In November 1990, the entire issue of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE Journal) heralded the coming of electromagnetic intelligence to highway transportation. Subsequently IEEE’s Spectrum, Automotive Engineering, Scientific American, and many popular Journals and the news media presented similarly optimistic accounts of the ongoing research and development projects. Sadly, little attention is being paid to neglected areas of road-transportation, especially accident prevention, safety and efficiency. The majority of the presently developing IVHS systems are reacting to accidents and congestions rather than focusing upon their prevention. The following presents a new integrated system design concept, with a number of accident preventing devices that would greatly reduce accidents, injuries, death, and also improve traffic flow efficiency, with a number of other advantages.
An Integrated IVHS System Design Concept
A truly ‘intelligent’ system design begins with a stated end, followed by the means of implementation. The achievement of the desired end mandates the integration of all system components and their operating requirements into an overall system design that meets the desired end. IVHS America, an unprecedented coalition of private interest groups, academia, and public bodies, so far presented no such overall system design.
IVHS America was formed in 1991, and has been the main selecting agency and promoter of IVHS projects. The Institute of Traffic Engineering is one of its founding organizations with a directorship in it. This semi-private organization has a great influence upon public expenditure upon intelligent highway projects, its recommendations are directed to the United States Dept. of Transport, (DOT.) , and to the Congress of The United States. Two Canadian provinces, Ontario, and British Columbia, are also participating in designing and implementing some IVHS projects.
A review of the organizational structure and functions of IVHS America, its many committees and subcommittees reveals that no system design group was formed. The desired end is not stated. No comprehensive system design is known to exist. Each committee defines its own agenda. In lieu of overall system design criteria their recommendations may be sound by themselves, but they may or may not become part of a desired end product and a well functioning system component of a comprehensive system design. According to the organizational functions of IVHS America, its Coordinating Council only “selects” from recommendations coming from independent committees.
Subsystem proposals cannot be function efficiently, when not part of an overall system design. The means are treated in great detail before the overall objectives, the ends, are clearly defined. The present management structure of IVHS America heavily favors scattered application of technologies that are not 'intelligent' because of responding to traffic accidents rather than preventing them and improve highway safety and efficiency. Most of the current programs are government sponsored. Lack of system design has led to duplications of field tests without benefits. The selected projects are easily implementable and they do not significantly improve traffic flow safety and efficiency. Little attention has been given to prevent the causes of accidents and death, environmental hazards, spills, fumes, fires and explosions. In general, most of the projects are reacting rather than preventing the causes of traffic congestions, accidents, material damages, personal injuries, and death. The question is: what overall system design criteria should the system module selections be based upon?
In the following, a desired end product is outlined, with a comprehensive integrated system design concept. This approach has the promise of a well functioning truly ‘intelligent’ system that could be integrated by using independently designed, built, and tested system modules, by the many participants in the overall project. In addition to assuring that each component subsystem or ‘module’ will fit into the integrated design and will function in harmony with other modules of the system, this approach also has the additional benefit that it can be built over a period of time, putting additional subsystems into service over the span of several years. Thus, changes in technological innovations will not threaten the project, but can be adopted into the overall system design, and moneys will not be wasted upon modules that cannot become part of an integrated project.
The Desired End
The primary aim of the IVHS project should be preventing the major causes of accidents, the reduction of:
1. personal injuries and death;
2. property damages;
3. vehicle delays, and to improve traffic flow efficiency;
4. pollution and damages to the environment.
5. An Integrated System Design is an essential requirement for the achievement of these goals.
This is just the introduction of my multi-page article with truly modern, 'intelligent' system design ideas, because the paper has many technical details.