What if Autonomous Cars are determined to be safer than manually driven vehicles?

Much is being written today about autonomous cars, also referred to as self driving cars. But, what happens when the technology is so advanced that the autonomous cars on our neighborhood roads are safer than cars driven by a human?

Some say that this determination will force mass adoption of the technology. If the autonomous car is safer than a manually driven car, then the autonomous method of transportation will need to be adopted as the universally accepted method of transportation for purpose of protecting human life.

The self driving car technology is advancing with the momentum coming from current car manufactures, such as Toyota, led by their Toyota Research Institute (TRI), and other companies such as Google and Apple.

With these strong companies advancing the technology of autonomous cars, it may not be long that a scenario such as the following may exist.

A person wants to attend a work conference 40 miles from their home. On the way to the conference, the person wants to stop and get a cup of coffee at a cafe near the home. The person uses a smart phone to request the autonomous vehicle to arrive at the home at a specific time for pickup. The person enters the two destinations directly into the smart phone app. After the autonomous car drops off the person at the final destination, the car returns to a main station for recharging or waits to be called by another person.

If the route the autonomous vehicle takes is for only autonomous vehicles, commonly seen safety devices, such as stop lights, may be replaced with trees and bushes, as they will no longer be needed. The vehicles will actually communicate with each other to determine who has the right of way at intersections. Traffic safety will be greatly increased reducing personal injury and property damage resulting from traffic accidents.

Pedestrian traffic will still be an issue. People will be walking and riding their bicycles. The autonomous car will always follow the rules and not have the risk of being distracted, as humans are. Therefore, pedestrians may increase their acceptance of risk by challenging the vehicle. The autonomous car will always slow down and stop for the pedestrian. This may cause bottlenecks in areas that have a high level of pedestrian traffic close to vehicular traffic, such as urban areas.

… autonomous vehicle adoption may be hampered by their strategic disadvantage that slows them down in urban traffic., Millard-Ball states

Great advances in the technology of autonomous cars is bringing this reality closer to us. Even with this advancement, traffic safety will still require attention by businesses, governments and individuals. The ultimate goal is to protect human life, while simultaneously attempting to increase quality of life.

 

Alternatives for Pedestrian Crosswalk signs

Pedestrian crosswalk signs are critical for safety in road construction zones and permanent pedestrian crosswalks.

As stated by the NCSL on Pedestrian Crossing;

In 2012, pedestrian deaths rose to their highest level since 2006, increasing by 6.4 percent from 2011 to a total of 4,743 pedestrian fatalities. Injuries rose by 10 percent during the same time period. Furthermore, pedestrian deaths now make up 14 percent of the total traffic deaths in the U.S., up from 11 percent in 2011. This is partly the result of decreasing motorist deaths and increasing amounts of Americans walking for transportation and recreation.

With the increase of pedestrians walking  rather than driving to their destination, all actions must be taken to increase public safety.

While the pedestrian’s must be protected when coming into close proximity of vehicular traffic patterns, the motorist must also be protected from accidentally harming a pedestrian.

In-street pedestrian crossing signs are an excellent alternative to increase pedestrian and motorist safety, and is often required by State law. The pedestrian can readily see the restricted safe access within the traffic pattern. And, the motorist is made aware of the marked pedestrian crossing.

Pedestrian crosswalk signsAvailable options for pedestrian signs are portable and fixed base.

The portable base provides convenient transportability for construction sites. Pedestrians can be injured in public crosswalks and temporary crosswalk situations during road construction. This is especially true if the recommended safety zone is not clearly marked or visible.

Whereas, the fixed base is used in permanent crosswalk patterns.

While the pedestrian crossing signs are designed to protect the individual walking, the sign must also be designed to not be a hazard to a vehicle. These devices are tested in crash scenarios to evaluate their safety in real life traffic situations. Pedestrian Crossing Sign System must be designed to withstand impact. The signs should be

NCHRP350 approved

MUTCD compliant

If you need to identify safe pedestrian crossings, whether in a construction zone or a permanent traffic pattern, contact Traffic Safety Direct. We provide fixed and portable in-street pedestrian crossing signs, bases, replacement panels, and hardware that meet MUTCD requirements and are NCHRP350 approved.

How a Speed Hump compares to a Speed Bump

Controlling traffic speed in a private community or commercial parking lot is a challenge. A first step would be the installation of signage. Another action that can be taken is to install an impediment in the road to reduce the speed of vehicular traffic to an appropriate level.

Two impediment options commonly considered to maintain an appropriate traffic speed are to install a Speed Hump or a Speed Bump. The question then becomes, what is the difference between these two options.

When deciding on an approach, considerations should go beyond the regular vehicle traffic that occurs on a normal day. There should also be an awareness that emergency and city maintenance vehicles will need to use these roads or thoroughfares.

Speed Bump

Speed BumpA Speed Bump is a single impediment piece attached directly to the road. A Speed Bump will generally slow traffic to 5 miles per hour. Installation of a Speed Bump is a single piece attached directly to the road conforming to the contour of the road’s surface.

 

speed humpSpeed Hump

A Speed Hump is more gradual than a Speed Bump. There are three parts to a Speed Hump. There is the core and, additionally, male and female end caps. The end caps are installed on the front and back of the hump. This design causes the Speed Hump to have a more smooth transition.

The speed of vehicles is reduced to 15 or 20 miles per hour. Emergency vehicles, such as an ambulance, police car or fire truck, are not as drastically impaired from a Speed Hump as from a Speed Bump.

As we stated in our post Installation and Use of a Rubber Speed Hump

This can be a crucial requirement on private community roads and commercial parking lots to reduce risk of traffic accidents.

Signage

traffic_safety_signs_reflectivityIn addition to the use of a Speed Hump or a Speed Bump, another effective tool is the addition of signage. Signs further protect the walking or cycling public. Signs are an effective visual for walking traffic, cyclists and motorists.

If you require traffic signs, speed humps or speed bumps, contact us at Traffic Safety Direct. We can assist you in your selection or develop a custom solution to meet your specific needs.

Installation and Use of a Rubber Speed Hump

Rubber speed humps safely slow vehicle speed while maintaining traffic flow. This can be a crucial requirement on private community roads and commercial parking lots to reduce risk of traffic accidents.

Commercial Parking Lots

For any business responsible for a commercial parking lot, it is critical to understand State and Federal requirements. In our previous post Requirements on a Small Business Regarding Public Accommodations for Disabled Persons we discussed the American Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and how  it includes reasonable accommodations and accessibility for employees, and the public, with disabilities.

In addition, reducing risk to pedestrians and vehicles in a commercial parking lot must also be high priority. The business should do its due-diligence to maintain public safety.  Installing speed humps can greatly assist the reduction of traffic accident risk.

Private Roads in Gated Communities

A road may be owned and maintained by the Home Owners’ Association (HOA) within a gated community. Great responsibility comes along with owning a road. Along with maintenance and snow removal, it is also the responsibility of the HOA to control the speed of the motorists.

Many communities that manage private roads prefer to keep the speed limit at 20 miles per hour or less. A vehicle traveling at a speed greater than 15 or 20 MPH can prove to be a hazard to the residents of the community. A speed hump that is designed to reduce speed without being harmful to the moving vehicle is an excellent solution.

Rubber Speed Hump

A rubber speed hump is a modular device that safely slows vehicle speed while maintaining smooth traffic flow. Speed Humps provide a gradual hump, while still effectively reducing speed to 15 or 20 miles per hour.

At Traffic Safety Direct, we offer rubber speed humps constructed from 100% recycled tires. Our speed hump flexible design conforms to the contour of virtually any road surface. For more information, contact us at 888-260-3246

Below is an excellent video showing the ease of installing a Rubber Speed Hump:

Traffic Safety Products to Help Keep the Construction Site Safe

Planning is critical for maintaining safety for the public and the workers before, during and after road construction. Traffic Control Plans and Internal Traffic Control Plans will be necessary, and often required. This planning process will highlight the need for traffic safety products.

Before Road Work Begins

Governmental entities will require a traffic control plan before construction begins. The purpose of the traffic control plan is to clearly describe traffic patterns and placement of devices through the different phases of the construction. Safety of the vehicles, walking pedestrians, cyclists and construction workers are of primary concern.

Additionally, a construction site may develop an Internal Traffic Control Plan. This plan is to define safe traffic patterns within the construction site, separate from the public traffic defined by the Traffic Control Plan to support that plan.

Below we cover some of the traffic safety products useful for both within the construction site and out on the public side of the site.

High Visibility Apparel

To reduce risk, the construction workers should wear proper safety apparel. Without proper apparel, they are at a tremendous risk of not being seen by a driver. Construction workers can easily blend in to the background. The proper safety vests will increase the well being of the construction workers.

school-crossing-guard-safety-vest-class-2The safety vests that are the best choice are called High-Visibility Safety Apparel. The vests should meet the standard safety apparel requirements of ISEA “American National Standard for High-Visibility Apparel”. The apparel should be properly labeled as meeting the ANSI 107-1999 standard performance for Class 2.

Pedestrian crossing signs

Pedestrians and motorists are better protected with in-street pedestrian crossing signs. The pedestrian can readily see the restricted safe access within the traffic pattern. And, the motorist is made aware of the marked pedestrian crossing.

Pedestrian crosswalk signsThe pedestrian crossing sign has different design alternatives. Available options are portable and fixed base. During the construction phase, the portable base provides convenient transportability. Whereas, the fixed base would be easy to install on the street and is used in more permanent situations.

Coroplast signs

When considering temporary signage within the construction site, an excellent material to use is Coroplast. This material enables a lightweight sign that is durable and weather resistant at an affordable price, even in low quantities. These signs can be made custom to meet the specific requirements of the situation.

Coroplast® is a registered trademark of Coroplast, LLC. The term coroplast has become a generic term for all corrugated plastic because of its popularity. It has the appearance of plastic cardboard. This is the key to its light weight and resistance to different weather conditions.

Striping

Stripe PaintThe new or repaired road will need to be safely marked. A long-lasting traffic marking paint specifically formulated for line striping over freshly coated asphalt is STRIPE® EXTRA TRAFFIC MARKER. Traffic ready in 60 minutes and VOC compliant.

Compliance to standards for Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) is important for environmental reasons and compliance with certain government regulations. The purpose is to reduce ozone harming emissions. Emissions can be reduced by  switching to low VOC content coatings.

Traffic Safety Direct

At Traffic Safety Direct, we provide traffic safety products. Contact us at Traffic safety Direct and let us know how we may be able to assist you.