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Center for Transportation Studies

ITS Institute News Archives: 2001

Taking a closer look at crash data

Airplane crashes and accidents at nuclear power plants are thoroughly analyzed to determine how they might be prevented. The average person, however, is much more likely to be involved in a car crash, and yet these incidents and their causes do not receive the same scrutiny, say a pair of University of Minnesota researchers.

Principal investigator Eitan Naveh, an instructor and researcher formerly with the Center for the Development of Technological Leadership, and Professor Alfred Marcus of the Carlson School of Management set out to examine and assess how current crash data are collected in Minnesota. Their goal was to discover what more could be learned from already-existing data, what data is missing, and how data might be collected and better used in order to improve road safety.

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Even a blizzard is no match for ’superplow’

John Scharffbillig of the Minnesota Department of Transportation took the state's first high-tech snowplow truck for a spin. A display like a video-arcade game shows the road ahead accurately in a whiteout.

John Scharffbillig of the Minnesota Department of Transportation took the state's first high-tech snowplow truck for a spin. A display like a video-arcade game shows the road ahead accurately in a whiteout.

The state’s 30-ton prototype truck has joystick-controlled blades and a guidance system that keeps an eye out for other vehicles

He calls it his “big boy toy,” but it’s as serious as sleet blowing sideways.

John Scharffbillig cruised down Hwy. 101 between Rogers and Elk River Friday, riding high on the future of snowplowing in Minnesota: a prototype 30-ton machine that knows exactly where it is, where the road ahead lies - and whether anybody’s coming up fast from behind.

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SAFEPLOW team takes troopers for a test-drive

Above: Officers Dick Theis, Matthew Hodapp, and Stan Gruis with Craig Shankwitz and Heonmin Lim of the University's Intelligent Vehicles Lab.

Above: Officers Dick Theis, Matthew Hodapp, and Stan Gruis with Craig Shankwitz and Heonmin Lim of the University's Intelligent Vehicles Lab.

Members of the Institute’s Intelligent Vehicles Lab hosted a demo of the SAFEPLOW February 14th for Minnesota State Patrol officers at the University’s Rosemount test facility.

Thanks to a white opaque curtain covering the plow’s windshield, Stan Gruis, district commander, Mankato, Dick Theis, fleet manager, central office, and Matthew Hodapp, Minnesota State Patrol Troopers Association president, New Ulm, were able to experience something akin to the white-out conditions for which the plow’s technologies were designed.

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