Road safety goes high-tech
The EU has aimed to cut road fatalities in 10 years by half, hoping to save thousands of lives every year. While some progress has been made in this direction, there is still a long way to go in order to achieve the EU's targets. The EU-funded project 'Asset advanced safety and driver support in essential road transport' (ASSET-ROAD) sought to prevent accidents by reinforcing driver awareness, introducing early warning systems, designing new road-safety strategies and providing practical recommendations. With this in mind, the project aimed to test a holistic, integrated safety system that combines driver support, economy, protective infrastructure and cooperation of stakeholders. It focused mostly on heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), which pose the highest degree of threat. From a technical perspective, the project developed advanced sensor systems that acquire data from multiple sources, combined with automated detection of offences and driver assistance tools. The technology boasts a fast weigh-in-motion sensor that detects overloaded HGVs using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and thermal image monitoring to pinpoint defective brakes, bearings and tyres, among others. This is coupled with new pavement sensors to measure pavement loads, monitor seat belt compliance, and assess environmental conditions such as ice and water on road surfaces. In parallel, ASSET-ROAD developed a driver assistance system that monitors traffic violators via video surveillance and alerts drivers on road regulations and configurations through the Live In-vehicle Smart Assistant (LISA), an interactive intelligent human-machine interface. The project also designed a system of intelligent interactive services that shares information online, installing it in four different test locations (Germany, France, Austria and Finland). The information was then made accessible to drivers, emergency crews, police and other stakeholders in a bid to prevent accidents and enhance road safety. Through these initiatives, the project contributed to enhancing traffic safety by creating more efficient traffic flow and using cutting-edge systems to avoid road hazards altogether. Once fully operational, road accidents and casualties are set to decrease significantly, sparing valuable lives and making Europe a global model in terms of road safety.