New Technologies Could Prevent Thousands of Automobile Crashes Annually

Jun 18, 2014

Washington, D.C. – The Subcommittees on Research and Technology today held a hearing to review research, development and technology (RD&T) activities conducted through the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) that support the safety and efficiency of America’s roadways and other transportation systems.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “The future of America’s transportation systems is rooted in the effective development and use of new technologies.  Technology allows us to enhance both the capacity and safety of our roadways, to better control traffic congestion and to extend the life of our transportation infrastructure. The investments we make today will transform the future of transportation.”

The U.S. DoT annually supports more than $1 billion in RD&T activities focused on surface modes of transportation, including rail, transit, motor carrier and highway.

Subcommittee Chairman Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.): “Advancements in materials and technology, such as connected vehicles, autonomous cars, and positive train control can help achieve long-term cost savings by reducing congestion, increasing economic output, reducing environmental effects and improving the durability and lifespan of our transportation projects.  It is therefore critical that we find a way to maintain a healthy, substantive research base behind our state and local transportation initiatives.”

Witnesses today highlighted connected vehicle safety technology, which is currently a major focus of surface transportation R&D. The goals of connected vehicle research are to make surface transportation safer, smarter and greener by leveraging the potentially transformative capabilities of wireless technology. Applications are being developed and designed to increase situational awareness and reduce traffic accidents. These applications aid in driver advisories, driver warnings, as well as vehicle and infrastructure controls. Witnesses said that these technologies could prevent tens of thousands of automobile crashes per year.

The hearing was held in advance of potential legislation to reauthorize RD&T activities at the Department of Transportation.

The following witnesses testified:
The Honorable Gregory D. Winfree, Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, United States Department of Transportation
Mr. Scott Belcher, President and CEO, Intelligent Transportation Society of America
Mr. John Maddox, Research Scientist, Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Ms. Kristen Tabar, Vice President, Technical Administration Planning Office, Toyota Technical Center
Dr. Christopher Barkan, Professor and George Krambles Faculty Fellow, Executive Director, Rail Transportation and Engineering Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Mr. Troy Woodruff, Chief of Staff, Indiana Department of Transportation

For more information about today’s hearing, including witness testimony, visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.