The Deadliest Highways in the United States

The good news is that across the United States, traffic fatalities were down 1% in 2018 when compared to the previous year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 36,750 people died in vehicle accidents in that year.

The not-so-great report is that seven different highways in 10 states account for a large percentage of those crashes and fatalities. The furthest north is I-5 in Washington. The other deadliest highways are located in the southern part of the United States.

1 – Florida’s US-1, running 545 miles along the state’s east coast – from Key West to Georgia – was host to 1,011 crashes with 1,079 fatalities.

2 – Second is Tennessee’s I-40. This interstate cuts west/east across Tennessee before entering North Carolina. There were 437 crashes on I-40 in Tenessee in 2018, with 517 fatalities.

3 – I-40 in New Mexico, running east/west in the northern half of the state, saw 344 accidents with 395 fatalities.

4 – Alabama’s I-65 posted 366 crashes and 389 fatalities in 2018.

5 – Texas’s US-83 comes in from Kansas to the north and runs north/south in the top part of the state. US-83 is deserving of caution when traveling Texas. It had 268 vehicle accidents and 336 fatalities.

6 – South Carolina has the sixth deadliest highway. It’s I-95, which is 1,908 miles long in its entirety running from Florida to the Canadian border. It is especially dangerous in South Carolina however, having racked up 244 crashes and 301 fatalities.

7 – It’s us-90 in Louisiana – the highway that posts the highest number of crashes – 271 – and fatalities – 295.

8 – In Arizona, I-40 is the highway to be careful on. Two hundred forty-nine crashes have occured on I-40 in that southern state, with 293 fatalities.

9 – I-5 spans the state of Washington north to south from Oregon to Canada. Its 277 miles in Washington alone saw 245 accidents and 258 fatalities.

10 – I-95 makes a second appearance on the list. It ranks as number 10 in the Top Ten deadliest US highways, marking 201 crashes in 2019, and 240 fatalities.

Safer and lower cost bridge inspections

So, you’re a highway inspector and you are tasked with inspecting a bridge. Roadway – OK. Structure and supports – check. But how about the top? What if you are evaluating the soaring trusses of a bridge like the Tappen Zee over the Hudson, or any bridge with structures that reach far above the lanes of traffic. For that matter, how do you see all parts of the inside of a tunnel? A retaining wall? A high mast light?

The answer for the Federal Highway Administration in recent months, has been to employ Unmanned Aerial Systems, also known as drones. During the past year, increasing numbers of state departments of transportation are considering using UASs as well, taking their cues from states like Minnesota which, since adopting UAS, has seen a 40% savings in inspection costs and improved data quality. The drones are able to “see’ and deliver data from difficult-to-access bridge elements such as confined spaces, high wall abutments, steep slopes and piers under traffic.

Financial and safety improvements are also noted by UAS users, who observe how UAS can collect data without having to raise or lower inspectors to various parts of bridges and structures using traditional methods like under-bridge inspection vehicles, ladders, lifts and ropes. UAS also results in less large equipment use, which in turn means reductions in not only road and lane closures, but also in overall inspection time and costs.
DOTs are additionally able to collect infrared and 3D modeling bridge and topographic mapping details, and can identify concrete delamination using this wave-of-the-future structural inspection tool.

CV data partnership equals enhanced accuracy in TrafficCast data

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TrafficCast’s real travel-time information is set to be more accurate than ever, with the addition of real-time data from Wejo, a UK technology company which provides connected vehicle (CV) data. Upon announcing the partnership, Wejo CEO Richard Barlow commented, “Our value-added insights will enhance and improve TrafficCast’s product offerings and ultimately contribute to reduced congestion on America’s roads, shortened journey times, and provide car owners with a materially better driving experience.”

TrafficCast CEO Al McGowan added, “We are happy to announce our partnership with Wejo, and welcome the addition of their unique content to our industry-leading traffic information ecosystem. Wejo’s data exchange platform is a critical next step in the evolution of the connected vehicle, and our clients and end users will benefit from the insights their data provides.”

With the agreement, TrafficCast will receive Wejo’s anonymized traffic flow updates, including traveling speeds, from some seven million vehicles driving in real time. The partners consider this a major breakthrough in live data sourcing from the road, one that will provide users such as Departments of Transportation and everyday commuters, improved quality and accuracy in the traffic data that helps them navigate their world.

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Trafficcast International administrators attended two important technology and mobility conferences in different regions recently. The ITS America 28th Annual meeting was held in Washington DC in early June and explored topics such as how Intellifent Mobility can make our communities safer and smarter for pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and vehicles, and how to work safety and efficiency into the goal of delivering goods and services.

In Detroit, TU (Telematics Update) Automotive Detroit brought together leaders from automotive, mobility and technology industries exploring topics such as monetizing vehicle connectivity and what carsharing and scootersharing looks like in other markets across the globe.

I-29 Open, Again

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After nearly three weeks this second time, I-29 running from St. Joseph’s, Missouri through Iowa to US-34 in Pacific Junction is open as of June 17.

The corridor, running along the Missouri River, was closed since May 29 after heavy storms dumped record amounts of rainfall across the region. Other roads in the area remain closed due to flooding and damage caused by the high waters.

This 150-mile stretch of Interstate 29 was shuttered for the first time in March because of historic flooding. That previous closure lasted longer than 2 months.

Presently, MoDOT says loads over 12-feet-wide still need to use alternate routes.

E-scooters return to Portland streets TODAY

Starting today, Portland, Oregon drivers are sharing roadways with E-Scooters.

E-scooters are a somewhat controversial new mobility service. Like bike-shares available in some cities, the service provides an electric-powered scooter to rent for one-way trips. The scooters are consigned through a scooter rental app. Some companies offer a call or text unlocking service for those who don’t have smartphones. According to the model, scooters are parked on the sidewalk close to the curb and out of the way of pedestrians when the trip is finished. Some companies requre riders to confirm they’ve parked the e-scooter correctly by submitting a photo through the company’s app to end the rental.

While e-scooters have been cast as a serious menace by detractors – the e-scooters are sometimes driven on and left lying on sidewalks, littering and blocking pedestrian routes – Portlanders approved the one-year pilot program after a 120-day trial period. Proponents who argued for approval for the program cited reduced traffic congestion by reducing the number of cars on the road, fewer automobile fatalities, expanded transportation opportunities especially for underserved Portlanders, and reduced air pollution.

Portland transportation officials warn residents are expected to adhere to e-scooter rules, including mandatory helmet use, no riding on sidewalks, and no riders under 16 years of age. E-scooter riders are also required to yield to pedestrians, and ride only on roadways in parks. E-scooter drivers are allowed on Portland city streets, multi-use paths and in bike lanes. The programs extends til April 26, 2020.

Radios, Cars and Influencers

While many at the National Association of Broadcasters participants last week were focused on topics such as Esports; presentations like Beyond the Briefing Room: Tales from the White House Beat, and on new offerings like the just-introduced Influencer Series: Sports and Entertainment, TrafficCast executive Nick Kiernan was at the Las Vegas conference to see about In-Vehicle Experience, or as we’ve known it for decades – car radio.

Throw some television into the equation as well; industry experts are examining how to offer relevant car radio and video experiences into a future which includes autonomous vehicles. Surround sound? Screens on the back of front car seats? What kind of new content?

TrafficCast supplies nationwide up-to-the-minute traffic information, much of which is disseminated through automobile radios.

The National Association of Broadcasters conference is the world’s largest and most comprehensive convention encompassing the convergence of media, entertainment and technology. With more than 90,000 attendees from 160 countries and 1,600+ exhibitors, NAB Show is the ultimate marketplace for solutions that transcend traditional broadcasting and fuel the digital storytelling economy.

Stormy Weather

Oregon is one of the many states experiencing high water difficulties this spring. The National Weather Service in Portland warns that today, April 8, the Willamette River is high at Harrisburg, Corvallis and Albany due to heavy rains in the central Coast Range, central Cascade Foothills, and south Willamette Valley. Just this morning, State Highway 58 near Oakridge in Lane County became closed in both directions when earth and trees slid down a rain-soaked hillside and across the road.

In other parts, I-29 through Iowa and Missouri remains closed since March 19th, following flooding that submerged whole swaths of farmland. And storms are predicted to hit
the Plains, Midwest and East later this week, bringing rain and possibly hail and tornadoes.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is only one of many state departments issuing safety tips for “weathering” storm season 2019. The Oregon DOT reminds drivers that heavy rains can create dangerous conditions that include reduced visibility, reduction traction between tires and road, and compromised car handling. It advises:

Slow down, especially through high water. Driving through several inches of water at high speed can cause you to lose control of the car.

Be aware of the potential for hydroplaning, when your tires encounter more water than they can scatter. Your tire loses traction with the road and if this occurs, ease off the gas, gently apply the brakes and steer straight ahead.

Keep your distance; you may need more time to slow down.

Turn on your headlights to improve visibility.

Disengage your cruise control.

Check your brakes. After driving through a puddle, check that brakes are working properly by tapping them gently a few times.

The Wheels of the Bus Go Round and Round

 

“Hey, Bus Driver!” is what Madison passengers WON’T be saying on the new shuttle bus scheduled to begin operating in Madison, Wisconsin’s downtown. That’s because the 15-passenger people-hauler will be automated, electric and driverless.

There will be a driver on the shuttle’s initial runs actually, to watch out for safety, observe how the vehicle is functioning and reacting in traffic, and to answer passenger’s questions. The forthcoming venture is planned as a demonstration – a analysis project, that is, whose mission is not only to carry passengers but to be a test buggy, studied by researchers who aim to make autonomous vehicles part of the country’s transportation system. The United States Department of Transportation, chose Madison, Wisconsin (headquarters of TrafficCast International!) as one of only 10 cities to examine automated shuttles in real-time traffic. The one-to-two-year project will be guided by members of the University of Wisconsin, Madison’s Traffic operations and Safety (TOPS) Laboratory.

The idea for a long-term study picked up steam last April when a 15-passenger shuttle bus made by the French company Navya carried a total of 750 passengers on test rides around the UW campus over a two-day period.

For a route, city officials have targeted a near East-side revival corridor, burgeoning with newly-built high rise apartment buildings, and chic taverns and eateries. Initial plans have the driverless shuttle traveling an 8-block course from the State Capitol to a new music venue and back.

Passengers will ride at no charge during the driverless bus’s test phase. Researchers will be grading how the vehicle reacts to stimuli like bicycles and sudden situations, and how seamlessly, or not, it negotiates traffic while reaching a top speed of only 28 miles per hour. Engineers say trips may be suspended during icy weather.

City officials see many plusses from the use of automated vehicles, from easing traffic congestion and pollution, to diminishing the scramble for limited downtown parking spaces, to offering late night transport.

Project managers are accepting bids presently from shuttle companies, and hope to have the project launched, and driverless trolley cars on city streets, by fall, 2019.

Responsive Road Protects Pedestrians

With driverless and electric cars dominating most mainstream transportation news, the focus is often on drivers. But London-Based urban technology firm, Umbrellium puts pedestrians first.

Ubrellium created the first-ever responsive road surface, called Starling Crossing. “Starling” stands for “Stigmergic Adaptive Responsive Learning”. The prototype was installed in South London, but one can see the utility of this technology in any modern bustling city, where pedestrian populations are ever-increasing. And with the danger of smartphone-distracted driver also on the rise, prioritizing pedestrian safety is a necessity.

Ubrellium describes the functionality of Starling Crossing on their website:

“. . .cameras track objects that are moving across the road surface, distinguishing between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, calculating their precise locations, trajectories and velocities and anticipating where they may move to in the next moment.”

You can see Starling Crossing in action below: