Do road signs belong on the dashboard?

Posted in: Bridges, Highways

Sign_prepare to stopTechnology in the transportation industry is nothing new, but is it evolving too quickly? Each day, it becomes more difficult to keep track of new gadgets, devices, software, apps and other technologies put on market to improve our lives.

In the field of transportation engineering, Intelligent Transportation Systems technology makes our jobs easier. Ramp meters, message boards, cameras and real-time traffic information are just a few of the advances that we can’t live without anymore. In the public sector, drivers can use GPS devices and smartphones to help navigate the roads. Yet one aspect that has remained relatively unchanged is the use of physical traffic signs.

All of this may be changing, thanks to new technology.

A few days ago, I came across this interesting article explaining how researchers are studying the removal of physical traffic signs from the side of the road and instead projecting the sign onto a car’s dashboard. Using smart technology, the road signs will appear inside the car, alerting the driver of any actions to be taken. For example, if a car approaches a four-way stop, the car will display the stop sign to the driver. If there are no other cars at the intersection, the car’s sensor picks up on this and allows the driver to proceed ahead without a stop.

If this technology works correctly, there is an opportunity to change the way drivers navigate the road. Sound like a good idea? What do you think? Could these traffic dashboard displays revolutionize the transportation industry? Please share your thoughts with us.

2 responses on “Do road signs belong on the dashboard?

  1. Your article is very thought provoking. Improving driver awareness through technology could be a smart step forward for driver safety. As a traffic engineer I’ve prepared many MUTCD compliant signing and striping plans. The first hurdle would be to get any such technology by the regulatory agencies. There would be a transition period during which both street signs and the technology would have to be available. This would be a large hurdle since it would mean a parallel system adding significant cost. There may be a future for such ITS technology but it would require all vehicles to be compliant. Vehicles would have to be maintained and inspected to ensure that the technology is working. I see this technology as a supplement rather a replacement in the near future. But with wide spread acceptance by regulating agencies and the public, I don’t see why it couldn’t work. It just will take time to convert agencies, motorists and vehicles.

  2. Maybe. There are many problems and issues to be worked out before this would be safe. Do you really want drivers taking their eyes off the road to look at the dash board? The technology would assume that every vehicle has the corresponding technology to receive the projected image. We do need to make things simpler and reduce the amount of information we ask drivers to process, but still need to consider the practicality of new technology.

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