• January 07, 2016

    PacTrans assisting WSTIP with TRB IDEA Grant to Evaluate Collision Avoidance Technology on Transit


    You may not know this but over the last two decades, technology has been developed with the intent of adding a secondary level of vehicle accident prevention. Collision avoidance systems, as they are called, use radar (all-weather) and sometimes laser and camera (both sensor types are ineffective during bad weather) to detect an imminent crash. Once the detection is done, these systems either provide a warning to the driver when there is an imminent collision or take action autonomously without any driver input (by braking or steering or both).

    This technology has been so successful that three years ago the National Transportation Safety Board urged the U.S. government to require automakers to include it as standard equipment on all new cars and trucks. But it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, stop there. If collision avoidance technology can work on passenger vehicles, why wouldn’t it work on transit buses? The Washington State Transit Insurance Pool just received a $100,000 IDEA grant from the Transportation Research Board (TRB) to help them find out.


    Dr. Yinhai Wang, Director of the Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium at the University of Washington and Dr. Jerome Lutin will be the principal investigators of this WSTIP study where 35 buses distributed throughout seven transit providers in Washington State will be retrofitted with collision avoidance systems.

    Utilizing transit liability loss data (2004 to 2014) from Washington State, the Ohio Transit Risk Pool and the California Transit Indemnity Pool, Munich Re was able to determine these seven transit entities incurred $191 million in losses during this 10 year time frame do to accidents; that’s over $19 million a year. According to WSTIP, almost 90 percent of the large (over $100,000) collision-related transit losses that it tracks are forward-motion accidents or collisions with pedestrians, bikers and motorcycle riders. The premise of this study is that most of these accidents could be preventable if collision avoidance technology was available on buses. These systems will alert transit drivers in time for them to take corrective action on their own.

    The PacTrans research is set to begin in January of 2016 with 18-months of funding. Keep your eye out for the results in July of 2017.