New York, NY – As millions of Americans prepare their Thanksgiving travel plans – most knowing they will get stuck in highway traffic along the way – government and industry leaders unveiled an array of transportation technologies that promise to save lives, time and money by reducing congestion, improving safety and minimizing wasted fuel and emissions. The demonstration is part of the 15th World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), a gathering of transportation officials and industry leaders from the U.S. and more than 45 countries that opens today in Manhattan.

“The intelligent vehicle and infrastructure technologies on display this week will save drivers precious time and hard-earned money by making travel safer and more convenient,” said Scott Belcher, President and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America).

“These technologies allow cars and roads to communicate with each other. They can prevent accidents before they happen, minimize traffic delays by reducing congestion and suggesting alternative routes based on real-time data, and even find you an available parking space.”

President-elect Obama and many Congressional leaders have identified improving America’s ailing transportation infrastructure as a national priority. Currently, a traffic accident occurs every five seconds on our roads killing over 42,000 Americans each year – equivalent to a full 737 flight crashing each day. Commuters waste more than seven million gallons of fuel daily, and the average rush hour commuter wastes almost a full work week each year stuck in traffic. The resulting financial cost to our economy exceeds $300 billion per year.

“These unacceptable safety, environmental and congestions problems have solutions, and the answers often involve more effective use of technology,” said Randell H. Iwasaki, Chairman of the Board of Directors for ITS America and Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Transportation. “ITS technologies are readily available, and even more advanced solutions are on the way that will help commuters, transit operators, and commercial vehicles get where they need to go more safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively than has ever been dreamed of in the past.”

To demonstrate the numerous readily available applications, World Congress organizers constructed two test beds – one on the west side of Manhattan and the other along the Long Island Expressway – equipped with sensors and probes that transmit instantaneous data to a traffic management center. From there, transportation officials can:

  • Detect bottlenecks as the form and initiate immediate responses, including travel advisories, speed limit changes, signal timing control and other congestion relief strategies

  • Respond to crashes more quickly to save lives and prevent gridlock

  • Deploy maintenance crews in response to changing weather conditions – down to the exact street

  • Manage the regional transportation network to ensure optimum performance, efficiency and safety

Besides the test beds, World Congress officials also closed five blocks of 11th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan so automakers can exhibit the latest ITS safety applications. Some of the devices on display alert drivers to situations that could result in crashes and prompt them to take action. Others take temporary control of the vehicle and initiate automatic crash avoidance systems to actively help drivers avoid potential collisions.

“Next year, lawmakers in Washington will be working to pass new federal surface transportation legislation,” concluded Belcher. “For the sake of improved safety and mobility, economic productivity, a cleaner environment, and a better quality of life, Congress and the new Administration should make the deployment of intelligent transportation systems a centerpiece of the bill.”

For more information, contact Charlotte Seigler at 202-812-5985 or Sabrina McGowan at 240-401-2092

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