UMTRI

whitehouse.gov

Ray LaHood has seldom kept his opinions to himself.

The country's U.S. Secretary of Transportation since 2008, LaHood early established a reputation for bluntness and rattling cages.

After Toyota recalled millions of vehicles around the world for faulty floor mats that could entrap the gas pedal, LaHood advised people who owned Toyota cars to "park them" immediately and not drive them until the company fixed the problem.

He later distanced himself from the startling pronouncement.

LaHood also angered many a car company executive for attacking sophisticated car infotainment systems as too distracting.  Those systems promise a new source of precious revenue for the automakers.

UMTRI launches website for Parents of Teen Drivers

Dec 21, 2012

A website is launching just in time to help parents monitor and improve winter driving skills for teen drivers.

The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute is launching the site called  Safer Driving for Teens.

Jean Shope serves as an associate director of UMTRI and says parents find it's worthwhile.  “We do find that teens whose parents have used this program, and they’ve had an agreement, drive in a less risky manner…and in other studies certainly have less crashes.”

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

The world's largest-ever test of connected vehicle technology got underway in Ann Arbor this week.

Experts predict that our cars will one day routinely "talk" to one another with wireless communication devices -- preventing huge numbers of traffic accidents.

Already, ordinary motorists have experienced driving with the devices on closed courses.  One study was held last year at the Michigan International Speedway. 

Now, in the next step, the technology is being tested under real-world conditions.  By October, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI for short) plans to install some version of wireless car-to-car communication devices in nearly 3,000 people's cars, as well as on some city and school busses.

Traffic signal-to-car communication devices will be installed at numerous intersections; others will be mounted near potentially dangerous sections of roadway.

See a video of how the technology works: 

 

For a year, the motorists will travel their usual ways, occasionally crossing paths.

UMTRI will collect the data, which will eventually help researchers determine how well the technology works in real life.   Researchers may be able to prove that a handful of accidents were averted. 

But the real potential for the technology is when it is adopted on a wide scale, in millions of vehicles.

UMTRI Director Peter Sweatman thinks the potential to save lives is huge.

"Motor vehicle injuries and fatalities are the number one public health problem in this country -- I don't think people realize that," Sweatman says, standing in a big garage bay where technicians are installing the devices in study participants' cars.  "Between the ages of 1 and 35 - that's the no. 1 cause of death!"