INVESTING IN NEW TECHNOLOGY TO REDUCE ACCIDENTS AND IMPROVE SAFETY IN TRANSPORT
Rapid advances in computing power, telecommunications technologies and internet-based products are transforming the way in which our society undertakes commercial, recreational and educational pursuits. Within the business sector, both ?new? and ?old economy? companies are seeking to harness these developments to promote new services and products, enhance personalised customer service and secure market share globally.
Within the transport sector, parallel developments under the banner of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) are underway through electronic tolling involving private/ public sector partnerships, transport logistics and in-vehicle features that promote convenience and efficiency such as navigational aid systems.
At the international level, the major thrust of research and development within the ITS sphere has mainly targeted mobility, efficiency and convenience objectives. The objective of harnessing new technologies to advance safety in the transport system has been of relatively low priority. And yet all systems that modify the way in which the transport system operates have safety implications ? in either a positive or negative way. The European Transport Safety Council (1) in a recent report noted that ? road safety has, until recently, been a mere by-product in ITS development and certainly not a central aspect of design??the development and application of ITS should not be left entirely to market forces, as the market does not necessarily select the alternative most beneficial to safety?.
Within Australia, a national ITS strategy known as ?E-Transport? (2) was launched in December 1999 by the Australian government. The strategy brings a coordinated and strategic focus to the planning, application and assessment of ITS technologies in this country. While Australia has been progressive in developing and deploying Intelligent Transport Systems, to date there have been no research and demonstration projects here that establish the potential road safety and human performance benefits of in-vehicle ITS technologies. Against this backdrop, the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), the provider of ?no-fault? transport injury compensation in Victoria, established a partnership in June 1999 with the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) with a view to showcasing and assessing the potential of innovative, in-vehicle safety technologies.
This paper sets out to describe:
- The specific objectives of the project;
- The key phases of the project and progress made to date; and
- Specific technologies identified and the safety problems they target.