The Wyoming DOT hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its connected vehicle project.

The Wyoming DOT hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its connected vehicle project. 

Photo courtesy of WYDOT

Connected vehicle technology that the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) is piloting on Interstate 80 could help reduce crashes and make the interstate safer. WYDOT officials explained how the new technology will communicate road information and alerts to motorists in near real-time at a recent news conference.

“The information collected and distributed through connected vehicles will provide better awareness for the entire transportation network,” said Ali Ragan, GIS/ITS project manager. “The goal is to reduce the number of crashes, injuries and road closures on Interstate 80.”

WYDOT received a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2015 to develop and participate in the Connected Vehicle Deployment Program. The federal government also selected projects in New York City and Tampa, Fla., for the pilot.

WYDOT plans to install onboard communication units on about 100 of the department’s vehicles and about 300 private fleet vehicles. WYDOT is also installing 75 roadside units on and around I-80.

During the news conference, WYDOT officials used several vehicles, including a snow plow and a Wyoming Highway Patrol vehicle, to illustrate how the technology communicates with each other during a forward collision warning, a distress notification, a construction zone notification, and weather warnings.

Depending on the situation, the technology would either interact vehicle to vehicle, vehicle to roadside unit, or roadside to vehicle.

For vehicle-to-vehicle communications, a vehicle sends out a safety message and a nearby vehicle then receives it, allowing critical information to be shared in near real-time.

For vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, a vehicle that has information on an incident sends it to the roadside unit, which then sends it to WYDOT’s Transportation Management Center (TMC). The TMC can also send out alerts based on information collected from connected vehicles and other systems including weather stations and reports from maintenance employees to the roadside unit, which is the roadside-to-vehicle communications piece.

“Connected vehicles are not autonomous and require an alert and active driver,” Ragan said. “They provide situational awareness, allowing the driver to anticipate and react to changing road and weather conditions as well as traffic hazards.”

Visibility issues often become a problem during the winter in Wyoming with high winds that accompany a majority of the snow storms. Snow plows and patrol vehicles are often hit by other vehicles because of poor visibility.

“The connected vehicle technology will provide our troopers, WYDOT employees, and the traveling public more protection on the road,” said Col. Kebin Haller of the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

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