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11/23/2015 4:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Opinion: ITS: A Path Forward for Transportation’s Future

This Opinion piece appears in the Nov. 23 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

By Rodney Slater

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation

and Regina Hopper

President & CEO

Intelligent Transportation Society of America

It’s hard to believe, but on average, more than 90 people die each day in motor vehicle crashes across the United States. That’s nearly 33,000 people a year who leave their homes each morning never to return to their families and friends.

If this was happening in other forms of transportation, there would be an uproar from media, lawmakers, regulators and the public.

However, technology — specifically intelligent transportation system technologies, or ITS — is already at work making our nation’s roads and vehicles safer and infrastructure smarter and transforming the way we live, work and travel. The good news is that in our increasingly mobile and data-centric world, ITS technologies can do even more — such as prevent vehicle crashes and help state and local transportation agencies make the most efficient and effective use of existing infrastructure by reducing traffic congestion, time and fuel costs and emissions.

Leading research institutions, Silicon Valley innovators, wireless companies and new ventures pioneering innovative ITS-fueled business models are joining automakers, freight haulers, equipment suppliers and others in the traditional transportation sphere to revolutionize how we more safely and efficiently move people and our economy.

ITS encompasses varying innovative technologies. For example, by prioritizing connected traffic signals to stay green longer, traffic can move without as many delays. Additionally, mobile apps can provide real-time traffic information and dynamic re-routing, while smart parking sensors allow us to pay for — and even reserve — parking spots ahead of time. Also, services that match low-income and elderly travelers with on-demand transportation providers are increasing.

New technologies are leaping out of the test beds and onto our roads. Vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V, communication technologies, or cars that share information with each other, sometimes called “connected cars,” and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure, or V2I, communications, where cars and the infrastructure they travel on or around share information, are at the heart of this transformation.

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