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Introducing Safe Trip-21: Technology Solutions to Improve Transportation Safety and Reduce Congestion

Introducing Safe Trip-21: Technology Solutions to Improve Transportation Safety and Reduce Congestion

Highway congestion
RITA staff photo

Improving safety and reducing congestion continue to be key DOT goals. As traffic on our roads and in our cities has increased, congestion has become a growing problem; travelers and freight spend more time and consume more fuel because of congestion-related delays. Combine with this the fact that nearly 43,000 people die on the nation's roadways each year and the need for innovative solutions that transcend traditional approaches to effect change is clear.

Technological advances can play an important role in both safety and congestion reduction. Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) continue to evolve, using electronics, navigation systems, communications, and information processing to improve the efficiency and safety of surface transportation.

A new RITA initiative, known as SafeTrip-21, is designed to improve safety and reduce congestion by identifying and harnessing existing technology and adapting it for transportation needs. SafeTrip-21 will solicit information about technological applications that are both oriented toward DOT goals (safety, mobility, environmental stewardship, energy independence, and security) and ready for testing and integration into a field-test environment. RITA's Volpe Center is using its experience in the areas of ITS and system development and deployment to lead the effort.

The SafeTrip-21 initiative began when RITA sent a formal Request for Information in December 2007 to transportation technology companies and researchers worldwide, looking for applicable and viable approaches to mitigate congestion and improve safety through new technology. The SafeTrip-21 initiative began when a formal Request for Information went out in December 2007 from RITA to transportation technology companies and researchers worldwide, looking for applicable and viable approaches to mitigate congestion and improve safety through new technology. Based on the responses selected, RITA's Volpe Center entered into a cooperative agreement with the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) to establish the first SafeTrip-21 field test sitethe San Francisco Bay Area.

CALTRANS' partners include the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the University of California-Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH), the California Center for Innovative Transportation (CCIT), Nokia, Inc., NAVTEQ, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, and Nissan.

Technological applications selected for SafeTrip-21 will be featured at the 2008 ITS World Congress in New York City in November 2008. Attendees will be given a unique hands-on opportunity to use the new technologies and see their initial operational capabilities in the real-world setting of the streets of New York. Next, the actual field tests and evaluations will take place from December 2008 to December 2009 to assess and measure the ability of these technologies to yield near-term transportation safety and efficiency benefits, and contribute to solving long-term transportation problems.

SafeTrip-21 builds on the DOT's Vehicle Infrastructure Integration (VII) program by providing an accelerated deployment and testing environment for technologies that are already being considered for their applicability in the transportation arena. The overall VII initiative seeks to deploy advanced vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications that can keep vehicles from leaving the road and enhance their safe movement through intersections.

SafeTrip-21 will show how technology can enhance the travel experience, and will leverage transportation technology specialists from private industry, research organizations, and state and local governments who together will demonstrate that significant advances in solving transportation problems do not have to require large infrastructure investments.

The program is a true reflection of DOT Secretary Mary E. Peters' focus on "finding real transportation solutions that make travel safer, improve the performance of our transportation systems so that they operate more efficiently and serve us better, and apply advanced technologies and contemporary approaches to today's transportation challenges."