Analysis: Connectivity can be key to ensuring driver safety


Andy Bird, managing director, GTT Wireless, examines the connected infrastructure that is already saving lives and easing vehicle flow on our roads.

We might be some time away from highways full of completely autonomous vehicles, but the foundations for connected transportation are already deployed and in full working order in some forward-looking cities.

Every year more and more vehicles are introduced to the world’s road infrastructure at an alarming pace.

In the UK, in March 2019 there were 38.4 million vehicles licensed for use on the roads, while in the U.S. the number of road vehicles recently reached a record level of almost 253 million, an increase of 1.5% over 2018.

The rise of the ‘connected car’

Automotive manufacturing has taken great strides in recent years, and not just with electric vehicles and alternative fuel options.

Connected cars are part of the connected world driven by the rapid growth of ‘the internet of things’- objects that can be connected to the internet.

There are many connected cars already on the market, which take advantage of the proliferation of devices that are revolutionising road safety and dramatically improving traffic management.

Connectivity revolutionising road safety

The most advanced cars are fitted with a device which identifies potential threats to road user safety called onboard units (OBUs).

When linked with roadside infrastructure, a network is created that communicates critical updates instantly with the driver of a vehicle – including audio or visual alerts for many vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) events, such as a red-light violation warning, road condition updates, or curve speed warnings.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has already made great headway in multiple smart highway and connected vehicle projects.

These highway projects include the deployment of smart roadside units (RSUs), which have become a core component in several connected vehicle programmes to improve safety and reduce congestion in urban environments.

Communications becomes mission critical

But in order to link OBUs and RSUs, the right communications infrastructure is vital. As more road users rely on their cars to communicate road conditions, a connectivity failure could significantly jeopardise safety and render ‘smart highways’ pretty unintelligent.

One of the most prominent and successful communications options available to car manufacturers and highways agencies is Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC).

DSRC is used by OBUs in equipped vehicles to communicate with RSUs. DSRC uses a licensed spectrum (5.9 GHz) wireless communications to send and receive WAVE Short Message Protocol (WSMP) or internet protocol version 6 (IPv6). It is a low latency communication method, with a range of approximately 300 meters.

DSRC is supported by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)—and has recently been used as part of Nevada Department of Transportation 'weather savvy roads' initiative.

The goal was to improve safety, reliability, and mobility of Nevada's road system during winter weather events. Throughout its work on the programme, the Nevada DOT has tested and developed communication technology for transmitting road weather observations.

The conclusion was that DSRC, RSUs and OBUs should be deployed for driver safety and the dissemination of information to drivers.

The programme was also seen to provide a cost-effective solution to augment existing remote communication solutions to ensure the Nevada Transport Management Center receives accurate and up-to-date information about road and atmospheric conditions.

Case in point: Proven technology saving lives

We have first-hand experience of these developments at GTT Wireless. Our industry partner Danlaw is a global leader in connected car and automotive electronics, and its experience in intelligent transportation systems is huge.

Danlaw is one of the biggest suppliers of DSRC hardware and software in the United States, supporting multiple smart vehicle initiatives. In 2015 Danlaw was awarded a grant by the U.S. FHWA to develop the Next Stage Certification Environment for connected vehicle technology.

The company’s RouteLink RSU facilitates communication with roadside infrastructure, such as traffic signals or crosswalks. The device identifies potential threats and uses DSRC to transmit critical safety messages to vehicles equipped with OBUs.

One of the key pilots Danlaw is currently progressing is traffic signal preemption for emergency vehicles.

RSUs at traffic intersections communicate with an OBU on emergency service vehicles to allow quick and safe passage on a determined route.

Early trials have been highly successful and Danlaw has already received a letter from one U.S. fire chief attributing traffic signal preemption as a key factor in saving a woman’s life in an emergency.

Maintaining connectivity, whatever the weather

New RSU 4.1 specification requires that this equipment must survive the harshest of roadside conditions such as extreme temperatures, vibrations, rain, wind, salt spray and more – this meant the choice of communication antenna was crucial for Danlaw.

After a comprehensive review, the Danlaw team selected a DSRC Antenna from GTT Wireless. The GTT Wireless antenna is IP67 rated, UV resistant and incorporates weatherproof N-type plugs to ensure antenna installation does not introduce hardware vulnerability to harsh conditions – helping keep drivers safe and traffic flowing in even the harshest conditions.

The future of smart highways and intelligent transport systems – next stop 5G

With research showing the installed base of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) equipped vehicles will reach six million by 2022, there are more boundaries to be pushed to support effective on-board and roadside communications.

The next step will be harnessing the potential of 5G connectivity in Cellular-V2X technology to further improve automotive safety, automated driving and traffic efficiency.

One thing’s for sure, as our highways and cars become more connected than ever before, effective communications will only become even more mission critical.

Highways jobs

Highways Infrastructure Manager

Northumberland County Council
£60,253 - £63,540
We have a rare and exciting opportunity for the role of Highways Infrastructure Manager Northumberland
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

Highways Project Technician

Cambridgeshire County Council
£18,795 - £21,166
We’re looking for strong team players interested in working with a variety of professional and community partners across Cambridgeshire Cambridgeshire
Recruiter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Chief Officer

Leeds City Council
£85,207 to £93,727
We need a Chief Officer with that rare blend of strategic perspective with a genuine talent for engaging and supporting our workforce to be... Leeds, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Leeds City Council

Programme Director for Climate Change

Warwick District Council
Up to £91,500
This exciting new role will join our Corporate Management Team to formulate, oversee and implement the Climate Emergency Action Programme. Warwick, Warwickshire
Recruiter: Warwick District Council

Sustainable Travel Officer

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£33,600 - £45,400 per annum
Are you passionate about the environment, and the support services required to keep it safe, clean and green? Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recruiter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Parks Constable

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£25,833 - £29,726 per annum
You will have previous experience as an attested police officer or as a Special Constable, British Transport Police or Royal Parks. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recruiter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Collision Investigation Officer

Transport for Greater Manchester
£26,844.00 - £38,228.00 Per Annum
Are you excited by the opportunity to make a difference to the roads of Greater Manchester? Greater Manchester
Recruiter: Transport for Greater Manchester

2 x Environmental Health Officer (Food, Health & Safety)

Dacorum Borough Council
£31,218 to £39,786 (Inclusive of London Fringe Weighting) + Car Allowance   
Seeking to appoint 2 x fully qualified Environmental Health Officer’s to work within our... Hertfordshire
Recruiter: Dacorum Borough Council

Senior Traffic Engineer

East Riding of Yorkshire Council
£32.029 - £34.788
We seek an enthusiastic and experienced traffic engineer to manage our Traffic Team. East Riding of Yorkshire
Recruiter: East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Head of Asset Management (Regeneration & Environment)

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
£55,856 - £59,773
We have a current vacancy for the role of Head of Asset Management, and we are looking for a dynamic individual to lead the service Rotherham, South Yorkshire
Recruiter: Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Environmental Education Assistant

Brent Council
£22,779 - £24,030 p.a. inc. (pro-rata)
Looking for instructors who complement our enthusiastic, motivated and friendly staff team. Brent, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Structures Asset Manager

Kent County Council
£52,713 - £58,774 per annum (salary dependent on experience) 
If you have the ability to succeed in either of these roles and are able to prioritise competing demands and objectives, coupled with... Ashford, Kent
Recruiter: Kent County Council

Structures Senior Engineer

Kent County Council
Starting salary £33,082 per annum
Providing engineering support for maintenance of highway structures, liaising and working closely across KCC. Ashford, Kent
Recruiter: Kent County Council

Development Management Engineer

Warwickshire County Council
£37,849 - £39,782 per annum
The successful applicant for this post will be capable of taking the lead on work within the team associated with... Warwickshire
Recruiter: Warwickshire County Council

Permit Officer – Place

Enfield London Borough Council
£27,228 - £29,241
You will have the ability to understand and learn relevant legislation and be able to work on your own initiative but also work as part of... Enfield (London Borough), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Enfield London Borough Council

Senior Policy Planner

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£32,643 – £45,704 depending on skills
Are you looking for working arrangements that enhance your work-life balance? London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Community Services Manager

Copeland Borough Council
Competitive Salary
Looking for an energised and enthusiastic candidate to lead and focus the service through the challenges set by the Resources and Waste Strategy. Moresby, Whitehaven
Recruiter: Copeland Borough Council

Highways Infrastructure and Maintenance Manager - Highways Network

Bridgend County Borough Council
£37,813 - £40,760 per annum
An exciting opportunity has arrived inside the Highway Asset Maintenance Team within the Communities Directorate. Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr)
Recruiter: Bridgend County Borough Council

Business Support Officers - Transport Team (2 Jobs)

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£19,554 - £21,166
Within the Transport Team you will be required to work flexibly in accordance with the needs of the service, which can men... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Transportation Planning Manager

Brent Council
£55,638 - £58,779 p.a. inc.
ou will have an excellent knowledge and understanding of transport policy at both local and national level. Expertise of both people and... Wembley, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Valuing our roads: What is a network worth?

Also inside:

Traffex review 

Diary of a flood.

Beautiful roads

Live Labs exclusive briefing 

View the latest issue

Latest Video