Intelligent Transportation Systems to Mitigate Impacts of Adverse Weather Conditions Curtis L. Walker
Institution Address: State University of New York College at Oneonta 108 Ravine Parkway Oneonta, NY 13820 607-436-3500
Author Contact Information (email, phone): [email protected]
Intelligent Transportation Systems to Mitigate Impacts of Adverse Weather Conditions Curtis L. Walker Our surface transportation infrastructure and the public who use it are becoming increasingly vulnerable to severe weather conditions. Statistics show that 24% of all United States highway crashes are weather-related and each year, nearly 7,400 people are killed and over 673,000 people are injured in these crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates the average cost per crash in 2000 to be $14,100 (Pisano et al. 2008). Weather-related crashes are defined by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Road Weather Management program as those that occur in the presence of rain, sleet, snow, fog, wet pavement, snowy/slushy pavement, and/or icy pavement. Current methods to mitigate the impacts of these severe conditions include advisory information disseminated to travelers via local media, control options such as closing roads, and treatment operations that include snow removal. Decision support systems geared for a diverse group of end-users are becoming more widely implemented to combat the forces of nature. These systems can integrate atmospheric variables such as numerical weather prediction models and road pavement temperature with the resources available to a given municipality to produce a recommended course of action to ensure safety and efficiency. In addition, a connected system of vehicles that monitor road conditions and communicate with one another, in order to provide alerts of hazardous conditions ahead, promises to be a vital component of these systems. Decision support systems and connected vehicle technology represent the newest emerging technologies that will impact the future of intelligent transportation systems. Protocols in place to deal with hazardous road weather conditions fall into three categories: advisory, control and treatment. Advisory strategies include dissemination of road weather information via 511 phone services and department of transportation websites; public information obtained from local media and the National Weather Service is included in advisory
Intelligent Transportation Systems to Mitigate Impacts of Adverse Weather Conditions Curtis L. Walker strategies. Control strategies are subdivided into access control, which may restrict travel on hazardous roadways for all or certain types of vehicles such as high-profile vehicles or requiring chains, speed management such as reduced speed limits on bridges, and weather-related signal timing that increases cycle lengths and reduces progression speeds. Treatment strategies include snow removal and deicing operations which can require significant financial investments (Pisano et al. 2008). For example, New York City typically sets aside $38 million for its annual snow removal budget (CBS 2011), and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) sets aside $70 million for its annual snow removal budget (ABC7 2010). Decision support systems have been developed to identify the necessary maintenance actions to promote safety and efficiency, given forecasted weather conditions. One such system currently in use is the FHWA’s Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS). In 2001, the FHWA Office of Transportation Operations (HOTO) initiated a program to develop a winter road maintenance support system. The National Center for Atmospheric Research – Research Applications Laboratory (NCAR/RAL) has been in the lead in the development of MDSS; however, the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Lincoln Laboratory (MIT/LL) and the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration’s – Global Systems Division (NOAA/GSD) have all made significant contributions to its development (NCAR 2011). MDSS has been implemented in several municipalities across the nation and new releases are developed constantly. Connected vehicle technology has not yet seen widespread implementation; however, it is at the leading edge of future intelligent transportation infrastructure. NCAR/RAL, with support from the FHWA and the U.S. Department of Transportation Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, is
Intelligent Transportation Systems to Mitigate Impacts of Adverse Weather Conditions Curtis L. Walker currently investigating the opportunity to create a network of weather observation and road condition stations as large as the number of vehicles on the road. Vehicles will record and report various parameters encountered along the routes they traverse. The current disadvantage to this emerging technology is the quantity of data that will flow through the connected network. These potentially tremendous amounts of data may render the successful transfer of useful information to end-users unachievable. Applications must be implemented to smooth this middle step from data acquisition to providing useful information to the end-user; NCAR/RAL is currently investigating the development of a Vehicle Data Translator (VDT) system to ingest, process, and generate weather and road condition products. Ultimately, the benefit of a connected transportation network is effective communication of the data and output. The result of these emerging technologies can be a cooperative multi-modal transportation network. Vehicles will relay vital information to each other; for example, a vehicle that slides off an icy road will send a signal to other vehicles in that area to stop, detour or operate at a safer speed, or, a vehicle that encounters a dense fog bank will alert other vehicles and prevent a 50-car pileup from occurring. Other surface transportation system end-users could include the railroad industry, which could integrate their trains into the automated network, receive weather information from, and provide weather information to vehicles. For example, a vehicle has stalled out because its operator attempted to drive through a section of flooded road. This vehicle will not only send a signal to other vehicles of the present danger, but could also inform trains operating in this area to watch for washed out sections of track. The aviation industry has long implemented assessment systems to ensure safe operations on a daily basis, and these systems can be incorporated into the nationwide network to provide a threedimensional viewpoint of weather events. For example, an airplane that is forced to abort a
Intelligent Transportation Systems to Mitigate Impacts of Adverse Weather Conditions Curtis L. Walker landing due to strong winds from a nearby thunderstorm would be able to inform vehicles on roadways below to watch for strong winds. Marine transportation systems relay vital information to ship crews to ensure they steer clear of tropical cyclones and avoid loss of life and precious cargo. The information obtained from these ships could be used to provide additional warning should one of these tropical cyclones be predicted to make landfall. Decision support systems and connected vehicle technology are the next emerging technologies that will influence intelligent transportation systems for the better. In the connected society, no sector is independent of transportation concerns. Our standard of living relies heavily on the ability for trucks, trains, boats and planes to reach their destinations with our cell phones, computers, food and clothing. However, these various modes also transport people; parents, children, loved ones and friends. It is because of our reliance on transportation that we must seek out ways to ensure safe passage for all. Decision support systems and connected vehicle technology may provide the answers to our transportation infrastructure’s susceptibility to inclement weather. These systems must be designed, implemented and evaluated to ensure they promote safety and efficiency. They are the next emerging technologies in the path to true intelligent transportation systems.
Intelligent Transportation Systems to Mitigate Impacts of Adverse Weather Conditions Curtis L. Walker REFERENCES CBS New York [CBS]. 2011. Winter Crushes Snow-Removal Budgets In NY, NJ. Accessed on June 7, 2011 at http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/01/25/winter-crushes-snow-removal budgets-in-ny-nj/. National Center for Atmospheric Research [NCAR]. 2011. Maintenance Decision Support System | RAL. Accessed on June 6, 2011 at http://www.ral.ucar.edu/projects/rdwx_mdss/. Pisano, P.A., Goodwin, L.C., and M.A. Rosetti, 2008: U.S. Highway Crashes In Adverse Road Weather Conditions. Proceedings of the 88th Annual American Meteorological Society Meeting, 20-24 January, New Orleans, LA. The Denver Channel [ABC7]. 2010. CDOT Over Budget On Snow Removal. Accessed on June 7, 2011 at http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/22971046/detail.html.