How the Internet of Things Can Make Roads Safer

The transportation industry is associated with high maintenance costs, accidents, injuries and loss of life. In the 2016 statistics compiled by the National Safety Council, motor-vehicle fatalities on US roads increased by 6%, which numbered to a total of 40,200. It was emphasized that it was the first time the death toll reached that count in nearly a decade.

Not only that, the estimated cost of damages was over 430 billion USD. In comparison, this amount was 12% higher than the cost in 2015.

To put it simply, the roads in the US have become more dangerous over time. This is not an isolated case, as it’s happening in other countries as well, more so in areas with less developed roads.

Where does the IoT come in?

Technology has always played a pivotal role not only in making life easier, but safer as well. In this case, the Internet of Things (IoT) can improve safety through smart cars and smart cities. Our CEO and co-founder Carl Krupitzer wrote an article in which the IoT was highlighted as a way to “screen employee habits to ensure safety while on the road.”

Aside from cars, bike sharing and rentals were also mentioned given that they’re becoming a trend in cities today because bikes are useful in getting through congested roads. The IoT enables rental companies to track or send/receive an alert if necessary in case a problem arises.

Similarly, an article by Telogis entitled Unraveling the Web of the Internet of Things explained the interconnection between vehicle, driver, and infrastructure. Users will be informed if there’s a hazardous area along a specified route or if a bridge is out or other scenarios which could potentially cause an accident. Real time access to this information will give the driver some leeway to adjust and select a safer route towards the destination.

On the other hand, a real world example of a smart city was given in an article by Information Age, which featured a community-based parking system being tested in Stuttgart, Germany. The engineering firm and automotive component manufacturer Bosch is currently collaborating with automobile giant Mercedes Benz to develop an interactive real-time map which will allow drivers to detect spots when driving along a street in the area.

On-board sensors placed in strategic points scan and measure the space between parked cars. This is then translated into a digital map which drivers can then use to easily assess the gaps and openings in the streets as well as search for the best parking slot if needed.

Identical pilot projects are scheduled to be launched in the US this year. The ultimate goal is to enhance road safety all the way from transit to parking.

Through IoT support, environmental monitoring systems can also be used to issue warnings for people on the road in case of sudden weather changes or anomalies. One scenario is the occurrence of flash floods, in which there is limited time to get to high ground.

In all, the ongoing issue of road safety can hopefully be addressed by the Internet of Things and machine learning. As vehicles and cities become increasingly ‘smart’, drivers will have more means of precaution which are invaluable in securing a safe passage every time they need to hit the road.

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