Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Software Speeds Response To Road Accidents

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the fluid-like-no-other dept.

Software 100

coondoggie alerts us to research out of Ohio State University that could help authorities respond to car accidents more quickly and ease traffic back-ups at lower cost, particularly in rural areas. The software improves the efficiency of communications from in-road vehicle detection loops to transportation engineers monitoring conditions in order to improve traffic flow. Faster response to accidents and traffic jams could have huge payoffs: a 2002 study estimated that traffic jams cost the average city almost a billion dollars a year.

cancel ×

100 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Ah, another: (-1, Offtopic)

Richard McBeef (1092673) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734625)

$program helps $agency do $task faster.

Re:Ah, another: (1)

R00BYtheN00BY (1118945) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735253)

god shut up

Re:Ah, another: (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 7 years ago | (#19736721)

Dear Richard,

Can I call you Dick, great, thanks Dick.

Yes, Dick, it's true, if you analyze enough stories, you find that there are only a few types of events.

Specifically, "$noun $verb" and often some number of "$adjective" or "$adverb" or more "$noun" and "$verb" fields.

Of course, this all obscures the fact that when stuff happens, it's news, and if people care about it, it's news worth reporting. This story involves stuff happening (specifically, researchers found a way to write software which will help respond to traffic problems), and people (particularly those who drive) care about it.

So there you go, Dick, it all makes sense. You can rest assured that despite the veracity of your statement, there is in fact news worth reporting to be had. I hope this cleared everything up for you, dick.

africa (0, Troll)

s16le (963839) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734681)

When I think of Africa, I feel sorry for all the beautiful lions and gazelle's that have to live with those niggers.

Now.. (5, Insightful)

ThisIsWhyImHot (1121637) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734683)

If only there was some computer software that would stop people from slowing down and gawking at small fender bender, we'd have no more traffic jams.

Re:Now.. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734837)

I work for "the other ODOT"- Oregon. I can think of a way this software can be used to do exactly that: Variable Sign Minimum Speed Limits. Based on the real speed of the traffic (as detected by this software), subtract 20 mph- and light up the variable minimum speed limit signs with that speed limit. This would then allow the police to actually enforce a minimum speed limit; you could even have radar detectors in the signs that take a digital picture and transmit to cops waiting down the road for the "slower".

Re:Now.. (1)

njchick (611256) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735063)

Nice. At any speed, you are 20 mph too fast, unless everyone is busy passing you. If the traffic is moving slower than 20 mph, the speed limit is negative. In this case, you can only avoid the ticket by driving backwards.

Re:Now.. (3, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735097)

Unless, of course, you understand the meaning of the word "minimum."

Re:Now.. (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 7 years ago | (#19738349)

You do realize that her handle is "njchick" right? Speed limits are not our strong suit. ;)

Re:Now.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19735107)

The minimum limit. I.e. if the maximum is 55 under this scheme the minimum would be 35. If you were traveling below 35 or above 55 you'd get a ticket.

Re:Now.. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735377)

MINIMUM, not MAXIMUM. As in, if you're moving FASTER than the MINIMUM speed limit, you also avoid the ticket. It's only if you are going slower that you get a ticket.

Re:Now.. (1)

njchick (611256) | more than 7 years ago | (#19738769)

Sorry, "speed limit" implied "maximum" for me too strongly to notice "minimum". By the way, how do you call violation of the minimum speed limit? Crawling? Creeping? Antispeeding? And how would you accelerate heavy trucks going uphill? Weird, weird Oregonians.

Re:Now.. (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 7 years ago | (#19739555)

Many highways have speed minimums already (usually 40 MPH conditions permitting). I believe it is obstruction of traffic to go slower.

I would personally say that slowing down for an accident on the shoulder or someone changing a tire is a saftey issue though, and not obstructing traffic.

Re:Now.. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19754627)

I like Creeping- making somebody violating the law a "Creeper". Better than the "slower" in my original. As for trucks going uphill- well, that's why to me this has to be a VARIABLE speed limit sign. If all of the traffic in the truck lane (and we have truck lanes in Oregon- they're limited to the right hand lane except when passing) is going 35, then obviously the minimum speed limit should adjust itself to 15.

Re:Now.. (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735259)

First of all, as an Oregon resident, I think you guys do good work, mostly; thanks.

Another idea I've heard of for solving the traffic jam problem is, rather than minimum speed limits, just have a variable maximum speed limit. Basically, replace all the signs that say "55" with electronic signs that would say "55" most of the time, but if there's an accident, you lower the limit a few miles before the accident, say to 50 then 45 then 40. So by the time you get there, everybody is already going slower anyway, and traffic can flow smoothly (at a slower speed) instead of everybody bunching up and trying to change lanes. Obviously the difficulty here is the cost of replacing all the signs.

Are you familiar with this page [amasci.com] ?

By the way, what's your opinion of increasing the speed limit on I-205 from 55 to 65? Traffic permitting, the left lane usually averages 65 normally anyway, and it doesn't appear to be a problem. Do you believe there would be significantly more accidents if the limit were increased?

Re:Now.. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735511)

First of all, as an Oregon resident, I think you guys do good work, mostly; thanks.

I don't deserve the credit for most of that- I'm a software engineer working in central services, mainly on the business end of things. Closest I got was writing the software for Office of Civil Rights to check up on the contractors working on OTIA III to make sure local companies were getting the bridge building business and paying the right rates to their employees.

Another idea I've heard of for solving the traffic jam problem is, rather than minimum speed limits, just have a variable maximum speed limit. Basically, replace all the signs that say "55" with electronic signs that would say "55" most of the time, but if there's an accident, you lower the limit a few miles before the accident, say to 50 then 45 then 40. So by the time you get there, everybody is already going slower anyway, and traffic can flow smoothly (at a slower speed) instead of everybody bunching up and trying to change lanes. Obviously the difficulty here is the cost of replacing all the signs.

We do something similar to avoid a full stoppage for certain maintenance tasks. For instance, when they needed to shut down eastbound I-84 for a half hour to clear a rockfall near Hood River, we just put out 2 Incident Response trucks, driving side by side at 30 miles an hour starting at Troutdale. By the time they got to Hood River, the work was done, so they just pulled off and let traffic return to normal. No need to actually close the road, the rolling slowdown was enough to clear traffic to get the work done.

Are you familiar with this page?

Very familiar with it- I often practice anti-traffic while driving. Another useful page for anybody in Oregon is Tripcheck [tripcheck.com] - great for avoiding traffic foulups in the Northern Willamette Valley or checking on weather, construction, or OnStar reported problems elsewhere in the state. Also check out the new Transportation Options Tab- until I saw that I thought Oregon Public Transportation was really bad, I didn't know how many options we really had.

By the way, what's your opinion of increasing the speed limit on I-205 from 55 to 65? Traffic permitting, the left lane usually averages 65 normally anyway, and it doesn't appear to be a problem. Do you believe there would be significantly more accidents if the limit were increased?

I don't believe there would be significantly more accidents, but for most of I-205 it'd be against our current policy of slowing down traffic in urban areas. I believe that there is a plan in the works for the southern end, but they're waiting to finish the third lane between I-5 and Oregon City first (that's the construction mess you see at the Tualatin interchange currently, increasing traffic flows for the I-5/205 interchange and earthquake upgrades for the overpasses in that area).

Re:Now.. (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735609)

About the first week I was in Portland, I saw a city truck that said "The city that works"...and I thought it was a catchy tagline. Slowly but surely, the city and the surrounding areas proved themselves to do just that. Work.

I'll second the kudos offered above.

Re:Now.. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735791)

I know a couple of land use planners who might disagree with that- especially if there is an accident on Boone Bridge....but then again I work in Region One Headquarters, where the aging nature of Portland Metro's "Champagne glass" freeway system and lack of building I-219 properly when we had the chance 30 years ago is becoming quite apparent. One accident on Boone Bridge can tie up traffic on I-5, I-205, I-217, and I-84 VERY quickly- and it happens once or twice a month.

A similar problem exists with the I-5 Lift Span to Vancouver, but that's got an obvious pair of workarounds (either the Rainer/Longview Bridge up Route 30, or the I-205 Bridge). There simply isn't a similar workable option for Boone Bridge- Canby Ferry is too small to handle the traffic, and 99 West through Newberg or 205/99 East through Oregon City is often a part of the traffic jam.

Re:Now.. (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735923)

Points taken. I was more referring to the city/area as a whole, not just traffic. Anyplace where bridges are present has the potential for lots of problems, methinks.

Re:Now.. (1)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 7 years ago | (#19736639)

10-15 years ago, it worked even better. There was a huge noticeable difference as you drive from Portland to Washington state. The roads in Washington state were decrepit and bumpy, whereas Oregon roads were paved more often. Of course, as the population surged in Portland, it's getting crowded and congested just like everywhere else. And when they started outsourcing all the crew work to contractors, the quality went down and the cost went up 3x.

Re:Now.. (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19771719)

I don't believe there would be significantly more accidents, but for most of I-205 it'd be against our current policy of slowing down traffic in urban areas. I believe that there is a plan in the works for the southern end, but they're waiting to finish the third lane between I-5 and Oregon City first (that's the construction mess you see at the Tualatin interchange currently, increasing traffic flows for the I-5/205 interchange and earthquake upgrades for the overpasses in that area).
The south end used to be 65, then they reduced it to 55 before the construction began. I'm totally OK with that, and would not want it increased back to 65 before the construction is finished. Is that policy you mentioned just an ODOT policy, or state law? Whose decision is it? It looks like Washington does the same kind of speed reduction near Vancouver, but their speeds are 60/70 instead of 55/65; would increasing Oregon's speed to match that be a bad idea?

Re:Now.. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19773077)

I believe that slowing down traffic in urban areas is State Law, came in with the 65MPH speed limit, but ODOT does have some leeway with regards to that (for instance Salem North Metro is 60). As for increasing to 60/70, that would take an act of the legislature for sure- you'd have to convince the legislators that it's a good idea (rather than just the engineers) and I'm sure some parts of the freeway would have to stay 55 (Terwilinger Curves is only rated for 50 on ice, for example). When construction is finished, I know the south end of 205 will be 65 and three lanes each way.

Re:Now.. (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735539)

Your second comment shows the problem with changing the maximum speed limit to slow traffic in changing conditions: nobody follows it anyway.

To be effective, you would want to lower the limit some distance *before* the bottleneck to lessen the rate that new cars came in to the affected area. This means that you would be changing limits on areas that don't appear to most drivers to have a traffic problem. In my experience, most people don't slow down until they absolutely have to - even when they can see stopped traffic up ahead. Since they are probably speeding in the first place and can't see why they have to slow down, they probably won't, and the problem doesn't go away.

Re:Now.. (1)

businessnerd (1009815) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735745)

Agreed. I have seen signs that say "Left lane closed due to traffic accident 2 miles." The idea being that if you everyone gets out of the left lane nice and early, there won't be a slowdown like when they all have merge at once. Unfortunately, no one pays attention to the sign and keeps on speeding ahead in the left lane. When they get to where the lane ends, there's a huge jam as everyone has to merge over at the last minute.

You can put out signs saying whatever you want. It doesn't mean people will take it's advice or adhere to a speed limit. I think the best idea is what the GGP posted in response to the GP. Just have two large trucks physically pace the traffic leading up to the affected area so that traffic keeps moving.

Re:Now.. (1)

stormpunk (515019) | more than 7 years ago | (#19736821)

I think they should put up those "traffic accident in 2 miles, merge left/right" signs and then about 1 mile later, put some temporary highway dividers up that splits the lane that you closed off. Make the dividers close enough together so that anybody that enters the area will not be able to merge and thus traps themselves in the new dead-end lane until the accident/construction is cleared. Also, make the dividers out of something more than regular construction cones or they'll just get run over. Or maybe just use cones and put landmines under them. Laughing gas, whatever. This will quickly teach the public to pay attention to signs and not try to get ahead like an asshole. I wouldn't mind it extending to construction jobs that take months.

Re:Now.. (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19771815)

Fair point - I withdraw the suggestion. Although, I do wonder how well it works in places that do it.

Re:Now.. (1)

Twixter (662877) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735705)

You work for ODOT? (the other??) I live and work in Oregon and have some experience, believe it or not, programming for traffic counters. It isn't a difficult task to figure these sorts of things out. The difficult task is to get all the traffic counters together talking on a network as most states don't have an ip network running next to all their roads that they can just plug the counters into.

That would be the high infrastructure cost. However the better counter companies offer wireless connections, ethernet...so on.

If you know how far apart two counters are, then watching a single car move down the road, and even change lanes isn't a big deal. Heck, most of the good classifying counters already do many of those things quite well across multiple loops.

Actually, I know there are people who've been doing this sort of things for cities for years, and I didn't really find anything new or ground breaking in this piece at all.

Re:Now.. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735857)

You work for ODOT? (the other??) I live and work in Oregon and have some experience, believe it or not, programming for traffic counters. It isn't a difficult task to figure these sorts of things out. The difficult task is to get all the traffic counters together talking on a network as most states don't have an ip network running next to all their roads that they can just plug the counters into.
That would be the high infrastructure cost. However the better counter companies offer wireless connections, ethernet...so on.


True. We are lucky to have the frame relay network here in Oregon running down all the freeways- that's how Tripcheck [tripcheck.com] communicates with all of those traffic counters, loop detectors, cameras, weather stations, and ramp meters throughout the state (I work upstairs from TMOC in the Flanders building, where are you?).

If you know how far apart two counters are, then watching a single car move down the road, and even change lanes isn't a big deal. Heck, most of the good classifying counters already do many of those things quite well across multiple loops.

Yep, that's how Tripcheck's Portland Speed Map works. The loop detectors for the ramp meters track the speed of traffic, and report it back, which is then used to adjust the period of the green lights on the ramp meters.

Actually, I know there are people who've been doing this sort of things for cities for years, and I didn't really find anything new or ground breaking in this piece at all.

Neither did I really....

Re:Now.. (1)

rthille (8526) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735817)

Hey, you weren't the guy who blew up that whale on the beach were you?

Re:Now.. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19736105)

Yes- a long, long time ago (it's amazing- that video was shot in 1970, the same year I was born, and wasn't posted to the internet until 1992- and the media guys still get questions about it every so often).

I noticed that a recent humpback that washed up on shore two months ago got a bulldozer instead of dynamite...

Re:Now.. (1)

packeteer (566398) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734953)

We would have no more traffic jams if more people rode bicycles. Bicycles are nearly immune to traffic jams. On an individual basis everyone should consider if it is worth it for them to skip over half the traveling time involved with driving.

Re:Now.. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735205)

"We would have no more traffic jams if more people rode bicycles. Bicycles are nearly immune to traffic jams. On an individual basis everyone should consider if it is worth it for them to skip over half the traveling time involved with driving."

Yeah...that's gonna work out really well for the majority of us who have 'real jobs' out there.

Let's see, I'm in southern Louisiana. When it isn't raining (wait, that happens pretty every afternoon), the summer temperatures are easily in the 90's with humidity in the 90's. We turn on the A/C in late April, and it doesn't get turned off till late Nov.....long summer.

Now, let's put that together with I'd guess an avg. 15-30 min. drive to work...those times are by car. Yeah, you're gonna really look professional after you get to work, sweat soaked or wet from rain. Not to mention that you'll likely have to get up at what, 4am to hope to peddle your way to work in hopes of getting there reasonably on time? Then there's the long ride home after a full day of work (and maybe the gym afterwards). That leaves you about 30 min when you get home to eat shower and crash.

I think for most working people out there.....a bicycle is not a practical thing for daily working/living. I like to ride when possible for pleasure....good exercise and all. But, in real life...not much of an option unless you live in a perfect climate 99% of the year which most of us do not.

Hehehe...and I don't wanna depend on a bicycle to get out when the next hurricane comes.....

Re:Now.. (1)

packeteer (566398) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735853)

Now, let's put that together with I'd guess an avg. 15-30 min. drive to work...those times are by car.
One of my main points about riding a bike is that is is often faster than a car because you are not stuck in traffic. For some people who commute long distance without traffic a bicycle might not work.

Yeah, you're gonna really look professional after you get to work, sweat soaked or wet from rain.
Most people who commute on a bicycle change when they get to work.

Not to mention that you'll likely have to get up at what, 4am to hope to peddle your way to work in hopes of getting there reasonably on time?
Most of the world lives and works in an urban environment. Riding a bicycle is often faster than taking a car. Obviously people that need to commute with heavy tools or into rural areas aren't going to ride a bike.

Then there's the long ride home after a full day of work (and maybe the gym afterwards).
There isn't much need for a gym when you get enough exercise commuting. The only reason i go to the gym myself is to lift weights but i can do that on my day's off.

That leaves you about 30 min when you get home to eat shower and crash.
Again, the bicycle lets you skip waiting in traffic.

I think for most working people out there.....a bicycle is not a practical thing for daily working/living. I like to ride when possible for pleasure....good exercise and all. But, in real life...not much of an option unless you live in a perfect climate 99% of the year which most of us do not.

Despite the fact that nobody lives in the perfect climate 100% of the time people commute to work in every single one of the 50 states. It is possible to commute through snow, ice, rain, and heat.

Hehehe...and I don't wanna depend on a bicycle to get out when the next hurricane comes.....
Just because you commute on a bike doesn't mean you have to sell your car. With gas prices as it is now you will however save a lot of money.

Remember that just because someone is pro-bicycle doesn't mean they are anti-car. No 1 mode of transportation serves everybody's needs. Some ride a car, some ride a bike, for some they need to take a bus or train because the other options don't work for them.

Re:Now.. (2, Informative)

bendodge (998616) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734983)

In California police have been experimenting with setting up black tarps around accidents, and it seems to work very well.

Re:Now.. (4, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735573)

Not just California

Is it true that the state of Massachusetts is using large tarps to cover accidents so there would less rubbernecking", hence less accidents? [issuesource.org]
According to an AP story from February 23, The Massachusetts Highway Department is indeed using "large portable screens" to obstruct drivers' views of accident sites and decrease rubbernecking. The state has nearly 30 of these tarps, seven feet tall and up to 30 feet wide. The screens are assembled in five to 10 minutes, and, according to the Highway Department, have been used in about 15 accidents since their implementation in December of last year. The total cost for the current amount of screening equipment is just under $38,000. "Most of our feedback has shown they've been pretty effective," James Carlyle, a spokesperson for the Highway Department, told The Stamford Advocate. "It's no silver bullet for congestion, but it's been helping."
Last Updated: 25 Apr 2005

February 23, 2005 Here's an article from the Boston Globe [boston.com]
It says they were assembled in house & (then Governer) Mitt Romney brought the idea to their attention. Each set of screens costs $1,300 bucks, which, considering their benefits, seems cheap enough to me.

Re:Now.. (1)

Isaac-1 (233099) | more than 7 years ago | (#19736805)

Such a wonderful idea until they are mandated to always be used, then blow into passing traffic during a wind storm.

The run red with blood (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19734717)

Every day we drive the dangerous bloody roads.

Our friends and neighbors are killed as we drive on to work. Their deaths are an inconvenience and a reminder of the dangerous lives we live.

What is more likely do result in death and injury: being deployed to Iraq or driving to work every day? Driving to work.

Ride on, brave Americans. We are the real heros.

Re:The run red with blood (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735721)

Doing something that is inherently dangerous when one is unaware of the danger or thinks it is perfectly normal is not heroic. It takes no special effort or personal self-mastery to plod along with the herd.

" What is more likely do result in death and injury: being deployed to Iraq or driving to work every day? Driving to work."

Depends on your branch of service and military specialty.
There is a difference between fobbits and the folks who go out and kick ass, or expose themselves to danger because our strategy makes them roadbound gallery targets.

They key to success: Aim low. (5, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734723)

ease traffic back-ups at lower cost, particularly in rural areas.
For my next trick, I will quickly and efficiently shave all the hairs off a dolphin!

WTF? Where's the editing? (1)

m0nstr42 (914269) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735191)

ease traffic back-ups at lower cost, particularly in rural areas.
For my next trick, I will quickly and efficiently shave all the hairs off a dolphin!
I had the same thought (though not phrased as amusingly). Then I bravely clicked the link and found that nowhere in the story nor on Coifmans website does it EVER say the word "rural". In fact it talks about implementations in Ohio CITIES and near UC Berkeley.

Excellent editing job, guys.

Re:They key to success: Aim low. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735243)

I was thinking of this article with reference to the article posted the other day about building a transmitter to fool the shopping carts into thinking they were past the 'zone' and to automatically lock the boots down on the wheels.

Would there be a way to electronically 'spoof' these buried loops in the streets to mess with the speed stats....or traffic signals? Some kind of black box you could attach to the underside of your car to mess with these things?

Re:They key to success: Aim low. (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735393)

In rural areas, we don't have major multilane highways. We have two lane roads with 55 to 70mph speed limits. One accident can cause major havoc, even in the middle of nowhere. To get to one of the next cities north of us, we have to cross a river. One of the bridges was closed for repairs. A farm semi took a turn too fast, tipped, and blocked the other bridge. The nearest river crossing for us was suddenly 27 miles away.

The intersection of US 56 and US 59 in Kansas was infamous for nasty accidents that have claimed many lives. It is smack dab in the middle of nowhere, but both roads are well traveled. Traffic slows quite a bit when you have KHP and county sheriffs trying to figure out traffic and what to do with the smashed cars, and the airborne medevac team trying to get the victims into a helicopter and to a hospital. Not everyone has cell phones out here either, and even if you do, there aren't guarantees that they will work. A system that could help report rural accidents would be very, very useful.

Re:They key to success: Aim low. (1)

3p1ph4ny (835701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735965)

BTW, dolphins are mammals, and as such have hairs all over their bodies. So, unless you really can quickly shave an entire dolphin, you'd be better of pulling your trick on a non-mammal (blue whale, maybe?).

Re:They key to success: Aim low. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19736579)

"blue whale, maybe?"

also a mammal.

Re:They key to success: Aim low. (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 7 years ago | (#19736685)

No way. You know how big blue whales are? I don't think it's possible to quickly and/or effeciently shave all the hair off of one of those.

About time. (0, Flamebait)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734747)

They've been doing this in Germany for years and years now.
And a lot of other European countries have also been following suit.
America, as always, straggles behind the times.

Re:About time. (1)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734861)

Tell me about it!
If it weren't for that Henry Ford crazy and his "mass production" we could have put these traffic congestion problems off a good 10-20 more years.
And if that other silly American, John Hetrick, hadn't invented airbags, maybe people would drive more safely.

Re:About time. (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734935)

But seriously, in America, there are things like democracy and cellphone networks that suck here because we had them first and so others could build off our effort.

Re:About time. (1)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735257)

Oh, of course. Cells in South Korea & Japan are crazy awesome!
By the time a physical system gets deployed to even half this ridiculously large and independent (read: stubborn) country, it's already become obsolete.

Re:About time. (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734923)

America, as always, straggles behind the times.

Riiiiight. That's why no technical innovation has ever come out of America. We're just a simple folk, boss, we'er happy with our horse-driven carriages and superstitious peasantfolk.

Re:About time. (1)

PsEvo (1075643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735033)

Hey now, America invented microwavable popcorn!

Re:About time. (3, Insightful)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735079)

True, we innovate. We also allow the innovators to strangle competition including those who would make incremental improvements to their designs.

Back on topic...

With the vast majority of major American cities possessing some of the shittiest public transit in the developed world, I see this innovative idea as yet another cash sink-hole that ignores the real problem. Whether or not you believe all the peak oil arguments, the fossil fuel environmental impact arguments, or whatever, it is pretty hard to argue that congestion and accidents in general could not be reduced by making real investments in quality public transportation.

I have lived in three of America's biggest cities for several years each and NYC was the only one with decent mass transit. True, the traffic there sucked, but a system like this will not have an impact on NYC streets. Further improvements to mass transit will.

The L.A. mass transit system was beyond inept. No where I else that I lived is even worth mentioning.

Regards.

Re:About time. (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735739)

Um, you know that L.A. had a fairly good mass transit system until GM killed it [wikipedia.org] , right?

That said, it's patently unfair to compare America's mass transit system with those of Europe or Asia. Those are typically high density cities in smaller countries. Los Angeles is large by population and size but it's overall density is fairly low. That means significantly higher infrastructure costs to create subways, rail lines, etc, since they have much longer runs. Further, since those runs don't connect it to the rest of the country, people will still need their cars regardless.

I have lived in three of America's biggest cities for several years each and NYC was the only one with decent mass transit. True, the traffic there sucked, but a system like this will not have an impact on NYC streets. Further improvements to mass transit will. The L.A. mass transit system was beyond inept. No where I else that I lived is even worth mentioning.

Re:About time. (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735121)

> Riiiiight. That's why no technical innovation has ever come out of America. We're just a simple folk, boss, we'er happy with our
> horse-driven carriages and superstitious peasantfolk.

Technical innovation has come from 0.01% of the population of America. The rest of them are amongst the world's most superstitious, if official church attendance figures are to be believed. If popular culture is anything to go by they certainly do `biggest is best` but I think I'll be sticking to art (music, films, literature) from outside the States if you don't mind.

Re:About time. (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735281)

If popular culture is anything to go by they certainly do `biggest is best` but I think I'll be sticking to art (music, films, literature) from outside the States if you don't mind.

Because nothing says "discriminating taste" quite like discrimination on country of origin instead of content.

Look into non-corporate independant work in each of those three categories and you'll see that talent and lack thereof are most certainly not chained to any one nationality.

Re:About time. (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735307)

The rest of them are amongst the world's most superstitious, if official church attendance figures are to be believed.

US church attendance figures aren't especially high; there are a half-dozen European countries with higher ones.

If popular culture is anything to go by they certainly do `biggest is best` but I think I'll be sticking to art (music, films, literature) from outside the States if you don't mind.

Then you'll be missing out. You really think the US doesn't produce worthy music, films, or literature? Every country has popular entertainment, and the mere existence of it doesn't mean it's the only thing you can find.

Re:About time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19735155)

Absolutely!
This kind of thing's used all over the place in the UK & Europe and has been since 2001... http://www.scoot-utc.com/ [scoot-utc.com]

Traffic as well (2, Insightful)

bunburyist (664958) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734763)

The article talks about software/hardware combos being used to alleviate road traffic jams. I think this is a very interesting advancement in the use of our road infrastructure. Currently, where I live (Ottawa) there is a huge problem associated with road usage and a non-scalable transit system. Here there is exclusively busses used as public transit. When the busses are using common traffic roads, there is often a pileup of busses arriving at once or no busses at all when they're stuck in traffic. If we were somehow able to analyze traffic patterns in real-time it would probably be possible to divert or add additional bussing to busy routes and avoid congested areas, thereby alleviating the current situation where there is no possibility for rail or subway and our bus system can't get any bigger. D

There are systems like this (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19736287)

Chirstchurch NZ has real time monitoring & update of bus traffic. At each bus stop there is a terminal telling you when the next bus will arrive and they are able to control buses far better to get improved passenger flow. Better passenger experience also means more bus usage which is also good for the old environment.

Re:Traffic as well (1)

dodobh (65811) | more than 7 years ago | (#19741061)

The funny bit is that buses scale a lot better than cars. Reducing the number of cars on common traffic roads will speed up and smothen bus traffic.

But where is the cost savings (1)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734765)

How does a traffic jam cost a city money?

Re:But where is the cost savings (1)

PsEvo (1075643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734881)

Traffic cops or traffic cones?

I know those cones must go for at least 3.5 million each.

Re:But where is the cost savings (1)

sgeye (757198) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734917)

How about the time it takes city workers to reach and repair the road problems or the lost productivity of workers stuck in traffic. Time is money you know.

Re:But where is the cost savings (1)

PsEvo (1075643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734951)

Actually, given that logic, it would cost the entire economy money, as there are people stuck who do not work for the city as well. I assume this only applies for traffic jams; road repair is sort of irrelevant, unless you are "repairing" the traffic jam? O.o

Re:But where is the cost savings (2, Funny)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735081)

Then we don't need Software. We need MONSTER TRUCKS!!!!!!
People get two warnings to get the hell out of the way. If they don't comply, they get run the hell over.
It will be expensive at first, but only a few examples will have to be made before people stop being assshats.

Driver: there is a wreck up ahead
Passenger: Get out of here man.
Driver: Why?
  - Sirens in background -
Passenger: We need to make way for emergency vehicles!
  - Crunching metal sounds coming closer -
Driver: Fuck them! I wanna see!
                I can see the wreck now, damn it looks pretty bad.
  - passenger exits vehicle just before truck destroys the car he just left -

Pan out to a cop standing on the road
Officer: You know there is a wreck up ahead, Remember, we'll get there whether or not you are in the way.

Voiceover: This has been a public service announcement from your State Highway Patrol.

Re:But where is the cost savings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19734949)

The more time someone is stuck in traffic, the less time they have to spend paying the city money.

Re:But where is the cost savings (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735125)

I think they mean the people who live there, not the municipal government.

Re:But where is the cost savings (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19736847)

I guess there are several ways and I might be missing some but:
- Tourism: If people visiting a city fail to move the tourists, their experience is not good and will not recommend anyone to come back.
- Buses: If buses (In some parts a government service) are stuck in traffic, they will consume more gas.
- Taxes: If your company takes longer to deliver packages or receiving them, less amount of items are sold and therefore both the company and the government lose.
- Roads: If heavy trucks get stuck in traffic, the expected load of a pavement segment is worn, it will eventually have to be re-paved.
- Contamination plans: Measures of contamination due to traffic jams, cause in certain parts of the world economic penalties (without counting health problems) to the government.
- In general, productivity of the people is affected by several problems, including the time and the state of the roads while commuting. Therefore, a whole city can reduce its productivity by maintaining the citizens in bad mood. And most of the times bad mood is contagious, causing unnecessary stress.
- But in particular, I think is good for gas companies, so might as well can try to convince me traffic jams is just another way Oil companies profit.

YUO FAIL IT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19734791)

and execmutes a WHAT PROVIDES THE

bad budgeting (2, Funny)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734883)

If this is really true, big cities are spending over $1B a year for traffic problems, they should stop buying them and spend that money elsewhere.

First thing's first (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734915)

If your car can still function after the accident, get it off the road. If the other person's cannot or is unwilling, use your vehicle to push theirs onto the shoulder. Yes, it's that important.

Re:First thing's first (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734981)

more importantly: fine those who do not attempt to comply 1/365th of the estimate.

Re:First thing's first (2, Informative)

edsyc (1088833) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735005)

I've lived in places where they would tell you not to move your car, so that it is easier for the cops to decide who caused the accident. I think some people won't move their car because, if they do, the guilty driver can lie and blame the accident on other drivers.

Re:First thing's first (2, Informative)

melandy (803088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735381)

I've lived in places where they would tell you not to move your car, so that it is easier for the cops to decide who caused the accident.


I've always heard the same thing. However, "they" is my dad, who thinks that an accident is the end of the world and an opportunity for someone to cash in on suing you.

In the past when I have been in accidents, I've always left the car where it sat. As soon as the cops show up, they move the cars without looking at anything to get traffic moving again, so I've just succeeded in ticking people off for no tangible reason.

I decided to look up my local laws to see what the real scoop is. In Indiana (US), both IC-9-26-1-1-1 and IC-9-26-1-2-1 state the following: "Immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to the accident as possible in a manner that does not obstruct traffic more than is necessary." These are the relevant codes for immediate action to be taken by the drivers in accidents that involves injury or death (1-1-1) and accidents that do not (1-2-1).

I think that the "in a manner that does not obstruct traffic more than is necessary" is subject to the opinion of what is "necessary" to the driver(s), but the spirit of the law is to get out of the way.

YLLMV (your local laws may vary)

Re:First thing's first (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 7 years ago | (#19740297)

You forgot: document the accident first, best done with extra witnesses (cops work, but are usually bad at it) otherwise your insurance will not pay you out. Someone I know had it happen, they pushed the car off the road and the insurance couldn't verify anything anymore since the other side changed their story. Just leave your car there and call your insurance to see what to do next, record your phone conversation with your insurance provider if possible, always have a camera in the car. My insurer gives me a nice booklet what to do in case of accident including what to do if you want to get the car of the road. You could just print it out from another website too and store it in your glove compartiment.

Re:First thing's first (1)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 7 years ago | (#19740639)

Aren't you supposed to leave your vehicle where it stopped in order for the police to properly document the accident scene? If it occurs on an interstate there may be an exception in that case (high traffic *and* high speeds) but otherwise until at least the cops can document what happened I think the vehicles are suppposed to stay where they are at the time of the accident.

What're they doing, again? (1)

Anakron (899671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19734967)

ease traffic back-ups at lower cost, particularly in rural areas

traffic jams cost the average city almost a billion dollars a year
So how much do they cost a rural area?

Re:What're they doing, again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19735093)

So how much do they cost a rural area?

$100 for the tow truck to pull your car out of the ditch?

Timewarp? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19735051)

Come - keep up !
This kind of stuff had been around since 2001 and is very widely used in used in the UK and Europe... http://www.scoot-utc.com/ [scoot-utc.com]

CALTRANS has had that for ten years (2, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735235)

CALTRANS has had that operational on Bay Area and LA freeways for the last ten years.

Here's the current status for the SF Bay Area [ca.gov] .

The detector loops on the freeways report speed and traffic density data ("70 MPH, 14 veh/30 seconds"). A map display at the local CALTRANS control center shows spots where there's an unexpected discontinuity with the previous section. The control center then turns on the appropriate traffic cameras, which have pan, tilt, and zoom, so they can get a close look at the problem. They they can send tow trucks, ambulances, police cars, fire trucks, road repair crews, cleanup crews, or whatever's needed.

You can watch much of the camera output, alhough, being an old system, it's RealPlayer. Most of the cameras are pointed in somewhat random directions, because they're usually just left pointing at whatever incident needed to be looked at last.

You can see the incident log at the CHP incident log site. The control center sometimes initiates entries, but the guys who actually go to the site finish them.

Typical entries:

  • Incident: 1662 Type: Traffic Hazard Location: SB I110 JSO W ADAMS BLVD
    1:09PM VEH STALLED IN LANES, PTY UNDER VEH WORKING ON IT
    1:13PM CHP Unit Enroute

Re:CALTRANS has had that for ten years (1)

Bellum Aeternus (891584) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735623)

Wow, thanks for the link... now how do I tie that to Google Maps for something truly useful?

Re:CALTRANS has had that for ten years (1)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 7 years ago | (#19736135)

Well... Google Maps does have traffic. Either it wasn't worth their time to import all that information, or they decided that the spaghetti of green, yellow and red got enough of the point across.

Ob. link: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=37.779399,-122. 419281&spn=0.76413,1.2854&z=10&om=1&layer=t [google.com]

Re:CALTRANS has had that for ten years (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 7 years ago | (#19737507)

Are you referring to these live camera shots of the freeways [ca.gov] ? I wished there was a way that pulbic can view specific freeways. :(

Yes, those are the CALTRANS cameras (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19750557)

Yes, those are the CALTRANS cameras. You can look at what CALTRANS centers are looking at, but the camera system, which is mostly analog, has a limited number of video paths and switching, so only some of the cameras are live at any time. They're for zooming in on trouble, not for constant surveillance.

a low tech approach (1)

0WaitState (231806) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735249)

My solution to accident-caused traffic backups features two components: A bulldozer, to get the wrecks off the road ASAP*, and a long portable canvas screen between the wreck and the travel lanes, so dumbass rubberneckers don't have anything to look at.

*willing to make exceptions for wrecks with people still in the cars

Average city? (1)

going_the_2Rpi_way (818355) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735275)

Actually, it doesn't seem to be the 'average city' it looks like it's the 'average city' in a group of 72 major cities. Which could, in turn, mean many things. But I haven't read the 2002 paper so it's hard to pin this down.

It'll never happen in the U. S. (1)

flaterates (659792) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735329)

We can't even keep the pot holes filled here. A country in ruin with crumbling infrastructure, busy playing bully all over the world.

Re:It'll never happen in the U. S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19735467)

Maby in your shitty part of the country.

Perhaps electing the 'tax cuts or else' Republican was a short sighted strategy, eh?

Re:It'll never happen in the U. S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19736525)

But this is a chance to install detectors for the automatic
toll system (like EZPass) RFIDs in places besides toll plazas!

bitCH (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19735425)

base for FreeBSD guys are usuaaly are the important

Calculating the size of Cars (1)

Mendy (468439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19735919)

"He then wrote computer algorithms that can capture a vehicle's length as it passes over a detector. Once a vehicle of similar length passed over the next loop, the computer could match the two signals and calculate the vehicle's travel time. Based on each car's travel time, the software was able to determine within three and a half minutes after traffic began to slow that a traffic jam had formed."

I'm probably missing something here but how do they determine the length of the car when they don't know it's speed. Surely a small car moving slowly would record a similar reading to a longer car moving faster.

Re:Calculating the size of Cars (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19736295)

Suppose you can see when the front of the car passes the back of the detector, and when the front of the car passes the front of the detector. That gives you its speed (time taken divided by the length of the detector, which you know). Then suppose you can see when the back of the car passes the back of the detector. This lets you work out the length of the vehicle: speed times the time between when the front of the car passes the back of the detector and when the back of the car passes the back of the detector.

I'm not saying it necessarily works like that, but it shows that if the detector is more complex than just a single point that records 'light' or 'darkness', you can work out length and perhaps other characteristics of the vehicle as well as how fast it is travelling.

Re:Calculating the size of Cars (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19736597)

You don't need to know the lengths of vehicles. You just need to know the average density.

It's called occupancy [204.249.106.151] .

Re:Calculating the size of Cars (1)

colinbg (757240) | more than 7 years ago | (#19755945)

You are absolutely correct. However, in most loops installations they pair them in the lane to use two detectors to determine speed (time traveled between the two). However, new technology is allowing the use of signature analysis to determine vehicles by the signal characteristics when it passes over, however, in stop and go traffic this is very complicated and not as reliable (and length can only still be estimated). Loops are like metal detectors and produce a greater signal is denser or larger type vehicles. Not that you asked but now you know.

Link in post is outdated -- here's the new one! (4, Interesting)

Science_Writer (758048) | more than 7 years ago | (#19736317)

Hi, everyone. I'm the author of the news release referenced in the post... It looks like you linked to an older story. The new one is here: http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/smartbox.htm [osu.edu] Thanks for posting it! Pam Gorder

Biggest cause of traffic jams (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19737133)

Damn people following too close, that's what. Back off! Three second rule. Should be law.

Re:Biggest cause of traffic jams (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19738031)

I agree!

I'd write more but I'm typing this on my iPhone from the left lane on the 520 bridge. From all the honking you'd think somebody already caused an accident.

Re:Biggest cause of traffic jams (1)

LeadSongDog (1120683) | more than 7 years ago | (#19745559)

It is. Newton wrote it.

But why buried loops? We have cell phones. (1)

LeadSongDog (1120683) | more than 7 years ago | (#19745645)

Require cell operators to provide anonymous traffic speeds as a condition of licensing. It's a pure software solution. Of course they won't like it (people stuck in traffic reach for what revenue-producing device?) but at least they can claim carbon credits.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?