While much of the focus of transportation planning goes to modes of public transportation, there are new and exciting developments in the world of private transportation in the form of cars and highways. The term smart highway has been thrown around a lot recently, so I will give a brief explanation of what has been going on.
The first development in the smart highway movement came with the advent of the EZPass. This electronic device allows cars to go through tolls at normal highway speeds, eliminating the need for many toll both workers, and speeding up the flow of traffic generally.
But lets be honest, EZpass doesn’t exactly illicit excitement. Something with a bit more flash is being developed in the Netherlands right now. On a five hundred meter stretch of highway, the Dutch have replaced the normal streetlights with glow in the dark road markings. There is powder in the paint of these markings which is ‘charged’ during the day when the sun is out, and can glow for up to ten hours at night. They make street lighting unnecessary, and the experience of driving through them has been described as “driving through a fairytale.”
But what good is a smart highway without smart cars? And no I don’t mean those tiny little city cars. I mean driverless cars. Driverless cars are currently being developed by many of the big automakers. Audi, Mercedes, Volvo, Nissan, and even Google are all working on manufacturing driverless cars. Many of these companies hope to get the cars to consumers by the end of the decade. The ultimate goal of the driveless car is to decrease auto fatalities to zero. The thinking is that all auto accidents are caused by human error, so when the human error is taken out the fatalities will plummet.
These exciting new developments in the realm of transportation must be taken into account by transportation planners. Hopefully these technological advancements will allow for a better and more efficient circulation of traffic, as well as aiding in safely getting people to their destination.