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Home > News / Study shows Americans want new technologies to improve travel safety

Study shows Americans want new technologies to improve travel safety

A new national public opinion poll in the USA has found that ‘travel safety’ is the single

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most important issue that emerging transportation technologies must address.

The latest ‘America THINKS’ survey, conducted by the HNTB Corporation, titled ‘Technology-driven transportation innovation - demand for safety, concern for personal privacy’, finds Americans want and expect new technologies and emerging innovations, such as connected vehicles, autonomous vehicles and smart roads, to improve travel safety. That expectation, however, is tempered by significant personal privacy concerns about access and use of information generated by those very technologies.

“With human errors accounting for nearly 90% of all highway crashes, and between 30% and 50% of all peak-period delays being caused by crashes, minimizing the human influence in driving performance can have a two-fold benefit,” explained Jim Barbaresso (below), HNTB’s national practice leader for intelligent transportation systems (ITS). “Not only can smarter infrastructure and vehicles save lives and reduce injuries, they also can lead to improved mobility of the traveling public.”

The survey confirms the belief in a direct relationship between travel information and safety. More than half (52%) of those surveyed agree the single most important use of transportation technology, for every means of transportation, is to reduce accidents or make travel conditions safer. Americans are far less likely to prioritize technology’s ability to enhance personal convenience, such as guaranteeing travel time or accurate route planning (10%), improving the environment (10%), enhancing the ability to use the best transportation option (8%) or reducing congestion (8%). As new transportation technologies emerge, 71% of study participants believe they should be used to improve safety on highways, while 53% feel this way about providing traffic condition information, while 50% want new technologies to reduce congestion, and 42% desire information about alternative routes or modes of travel.

The HNTB survey found most people are optimistic about transportation innovations, such as connected vehicle technology, believing the technology will lead to increased safety (65%), fewer traffic accidents (61%) and reduced fatalities (58%). For many Americans, information about general road issues and transportation safety are closely related, and are driving interest in popular technology applications available in current vehicles. Among them, blind spot notifications are most likely to be desired (65%), followed by expected traffic condition information (62%), and ‘sudden stop’ warnings (61%). The ability to reroute a trip is of interest to 59%, and alerts to keep their eyes on the road is desired by 56% of participants. Interestingly, women express more interest than men in each of these applications.

“Evolving connected and autonomous vehicles will make travel on our cities’ streets, on our nation’s corridors, and in our vehicles, more reliable, predictable, faster and safer,” Barbaresso said. “The full benefits of this transformation won’t be realized overnight, but cities can start now to incrementally create a safer world for future generations of travelers. With a goal of moving toward zero traffic fatalities, automated and connected vehicles will help reduce human error and reshape America’s cities, putting traffic accidents in the rearview mirror.”