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Center for Transportation Studies

ITS Institute News Archives: 2004

Minnesota Comprehensive Highway Safety Plan – Progress Report

Presentation by Bernie Arseneau, Minnesota State Traffic Engineer

Bernie Arseneau, Minnesota’s State Traffic Engineer, is an outspoken advocate for a radical new vision of road safety in Minnesota. After more than two decades at the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Arseneau is one of many state transportation leaders who is convinced that a new approach to reducing fatalities and serious injuries on Minnesota’s roads is necessary.

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What are they looking at?

Understanding exactly what drivers are doing as they operate their vehicles is an important goal for intelligent transportation systems researchers. Because driving involves many sub-tasks and takes place in a complicated and constantly changing environment, finding out what drivers are doing is a challenge. But work at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering could help researchers get a clearer picture.

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Maintaining Safe Headways while Driving

Presentation by Dr. David Shinar, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

For drivers, maintaining a safe headway between their vehicle and the next vehicle ahead is a critical cognitive task. For human factors researchers, understanding how drivers keep their distance–and why they fail to do so–is an ongoing challenge with obvious implications for improving roadway safety.

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A new view of visibility on the highway

When fog or blowing snow reduces visibility on a busy highway, a single collision can escalate quickly into a deadly multiple-vehicle pile-up. Notifying motorists of low-visibility conditions in advance, so they can reduce speed and proceed safely, is key to preventing such crashes, but continuously monitoring visibility along hundreds of miles of road has seemed like an impossible task.

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Visualization tools make sense of traffic data


Four thousand vehicle detectors embedded in the pavement of the Twin Cities freeway system record traffic volumes, generating reams of data every day. In order to make sense of this ever-growing mountain of data, researchers need to create interactive graphical visualizations that allow them to see complex changes in traffic patterns. But with so much data to process, it can take days to create a visualization using traditional techniques.

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Keeping an (electronic) eye on bus stops

A new research report by University of Minnesota professor Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos describes an experimental system that employs sophisticated computer algorithms to carry out the tedious task of monitoring security cameras. The research was originally covered in the April 2004 Research E-News and the Spring 2004 ITS Institute Sensor newsletter.

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