The Chicago Tribune had
an interesting article about the future of driving in congested areas like the
Chicagoland region. The article touched on the possibility of V2V technology
that would allow drivers to communicate with each other via Wife and also
self-driving cars. The most promising trend, to me, was a type of technology
that allows speed limits to vary in congested areas called Active Traffic
Management of “ATM.” This technology is already being used in St.
Louis, Minneapolis, Ann Arbor and parts of Nevada, California and Florida.
ATM, Through the use of road sensors, the limits can be adjusted to
accommodate traffic, with the changes or other road-related information posted
on electronic signs above specific lanes. For example, one lane’s
electronic sign may show a speed limit of 60, another 55, and another may indicate
that drivers need to merge, depending on what traffic sensors show is ahead.
The system also can close individual lanes and space traffic on ramps.
“We’ve seen really great
response from drivers getting out of the lanes beforehand,” said Maan
Sidhu, freeway operations engineer for the Washington State Department of
Transportation, which started an ATM program in 2010 along Interstate 5 and has
expanded it to Interstate 90 and Washington Highway 520 in and around Seattle.
“We don’t have that stacking up of vehicles.” Sidhu also said
the department has recorded “a general reduction in the number of
(vehicle) collisions” on those roads but “no really great
impact” on travel times on Seattle-area highways, which are
notorious for long traffic jams.
It will be interesting to see if
this is something that will be developed in Illinois. As I have written about
multiple times in the past, Chicago has some of the most congested traffic
areas in the United States. More importantly, would this type of technology
help reduce the number of traffic accidents in our area? I will be following
this closely to see if Illinois looks at this further and ultimately implements
ATM into some of the more congested areas.