Wednesday September 6, 2017

Civil Engineers have New Equipment to Practice Intersection Design and Safety

If you think that traffic lights are just hanging boxes with three colored lights, you’d be surprised at today’s high tech traffic control systems.

University of Dayton civil engineering students will now learn about intersection design and safety with state-of-the-art equipment generously donated by Path Master, a Twinsburg, Ohio-based traffic management equipment supplier.

Not only do today’s traffic control systems manage the timing of traffic signals and pedestrian crossings, they are moving in the direction of directly communicating with your vehicle through dedicated short-range communications technology (DSRC). DSRC transmitters are already being installed in higher end vehicles and will likely be in most new vehicles within five years, according to Scott Morse, territory sales manager at Path Master.

DSRC connected technology has the goal of reducing accidents, according to Morse. When DSRC equipped vehicles approach a connected intersection, for example, the radio knows their position in relation to other vehicles. If someone brakes suddenly, trailing cars will automatically break to avoid a collision.

Path Master is working with the city of Marysville to become the first city in Ohio to use DSRC technology. The project is funded by Honda.

Connected vehicle infrastructure is likely to include cellular and Wi-Fi in addition to DSRC radios and could be used for everything from alerting drivers to road construction to adjusting traffic signals to accommodate first responders in an emergency.

So when civil engineering professor Deogratias Eustace met a Path Master Territory Manager, Kenny Pennington, at an Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) workshop last September, he was excited to learn that the company was willing to provide a whole new traffic signal controller system for civil engineering’s Transportation Engineering Lab (TEL).

“This new equipment will allow students to design intersections, input the timings into the cabinet and then see their design in action,” Eustace said.

Since Path Master equipment is used on all ODOT intersections and 80 percent of all Ohio intersections, students will become familiar with technology they will encounter in the field.

“We are grateful to partners like Path Master who donate equipment and technology that benefits our students and ultimately our communities as they design safer traffic management systems in a rapidly changing world,” said School of Engineering Dean Eddy Rojas.

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