The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute is embarking on the next step in a $22 million motor-vehicle safety research project by equipping vehicles with connected-vehicle technologies--devices that enable vehicles to send and receive wireless messages, messages that may someday prevent crashes.

The joint effort, named Safety Pilot Model Deployment, is the largest connected-vehicle, street-level pilot project in the western hemisphere. UMTRI and the U.S. Department of Transportation have partnered to examine connected-vehicle technology in real world use by actual drivers.

Wireless technology enables vehicles to communicate with each other and the infrastructure to privately and securely transmit and receive data such as vehicle position and speed. The systems can alert drivers to a potential crash situation--such as a nearby vehicle unexpectedly braking, a sudden lane change, merging traffic, etc.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people 4 to 35 years old. Crashes are associated with 34,000 fatalities a year, 2.3 million patient emergency room visits, and a cost of $240 billion in terms of medical expenses and work loss. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that connected-vehicle technology has the potential to address more than 80 percent of unimpaired driver crashes.

The Safety Pilot Model Deployment project is emblematic of the work being done at UMTRI today and to come in the future. It is an example of UMTRI's leadership in the areas of motor vehicle safety and sustainability, its multidisciplinary approach to research, and expertise in embedding research into deployment and the unique partnerships UMTRI has cultivated throughout the transportation industry--as well as with state and local governments.

Nearly 3,000 cars, trucks, and buses will be equipped with the wireless communication, connected-vehicle technology. In addition, similar devices will be located at intersections, curve locations, and freeway sites throughout the model deployment test area.

"We are equipping vehicles that spend time driving in the 48105 zip code--northeast Ann Arbor and the surrounding area. The pilot area is defined by M-14/US-23 to our north, US-23 to our east, as far south as Washtenaw Avenue, and west as far as Main Street," said program manager Jim Sayer, an associate research scientist at UMTRI. "We are working closely with the university community, but also with the Ann Arbor Public Schools, to identify individuals who want to know more about this technology and might consider having it installed on their personal vehicle."

For more information and to participate in this study, visit http://safetypilot.umtri.umich.edu/.

For project background information, visit http://spmd.umtri.umich.edu.