RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Transportation is taking a novel approach to reducing the risk of commercial truck crashes to help keep work zones and highways flowing smoothly.
The department is partnering with Intelligent Imaging Systems, a Canada-based company that provides innovative connected-truck technology, including in-cab communications. The in-truck messaging provides real-time alerts of urgent road conditions. The alerts will help commercial drivers react more quickly before encountering stopped traffic or major slowdowns.
“We strive to let people know of unexpected traffic conditions," said Kevin Lacy, the State Traffic Engineer at NCDOT. “We're excited to be working with an industry partner that is using new technology. Truck drivers will be able to get advance warning of a major roadway incident before they see it on one of our dynamic message signs."
The department is contracting with Intelligent Imaging Systems to provide this service to commercial truck drivers traveling through North Carolina. The first-in-the nation pilot will cover all 182 miles of Interstate 95 and the rural portions of Interstate 40 outside the Triangle, the Triad and Asheville.
The new alerts will have messages such as “Sudden Slowdown Ahead" and “Congestion Ahead" about 2 or 3 miles before commercial truck drivers encounter the slowed traffic or incident. Information will be in real time via INRIX, a leader in transportation analytics and connected vehicle services. These alerts will complement other notifications subscribed trucks already receive through the Drivewyze notification service. (Intelligent Imaging Systems is the parent company of Drivewyze.)
The NCDOT maintains more than 300 digital message signs that provide important traffic updates across 2,500 miles of highway. The safety alerts under the pilot, however, can reach commercial drivers even where there is not a digital sign.
Big rigs need more time to slow down, and crashes involving tractor-trailers can close highways for extended periods and contribute to secondary crashes, such as rear-end collisions. A fully loaded tractor-trailer traveling at 65 mph takes 66% longer to stop than a passenger car, according to the trucking industry.
“We're pleased to partner with the North Carolina Department of Transportation in providing a 'connected truck' solution that gives truckers a heads-up on unforeseen slowdowns," said Brian Heath, president and CEO of Intelligent Imaging Systems. “These alerts will no doubt help with traffic safety along interstates in North Carolina. We're a company committed to highway safety, and we applaud how NCDOT is the first agency to add these important safety alerts to truckers."
The one-year contract to employ the alerts began May 17. Afterward, the NCDOT will evaluate the safety benefits of the pilot.