Probably the most important step toward smarter, greener cities is learning how to integrate a wide variety of transportation types. Cutting down on private cars is key to reducing congestion and pollution but they need to be replaced by something – walking and cycling are the greenest substitutes, supplemented by buses for mass transportation. And of course trucks will always be needed for deliveries and other services that just can’t be replaced. This is where smart city planners hit a stumbling block – roads are being dominated by both larger vehicles and the most vulnerable road users – pedestrians and cyclists.
In a 2016 interview, Alex Epstein of the Volpe Center, a research arm of Department of Transportation, mentioned that 32% of cyclists killed in New York City were killed by trucks. In a 2013 report the National Transportation Safety Board notes that “The existence of large blind spots around large trucks has been well-documented and results in collisions where drivers of large trucks strike vulnerable road users.” These blind spots are highly exacerbated while a truck is turning. In fact, 44% of cyclists killed by single-unit trucks were struck by the right or left side of the vehicle.
In addition to trucks, urban buses also pose a hazard to cyclists and pedestrians. According to a 2005 article in the Injury Prevention journal, the rate of fatal collisions in urban areas by buses far exceeds that of any other type of vehicle. Here again blind spot detection seems to be a serious issue. According to Greater Greater Washington magazine over 500 people died between 2000-15 due to buses’ large blind spots.
In response to this pressing need, Mobileye Shield+™, a collision avoidance system for large commercial and municipal vehicles, was specifically designed to help trucks and buses safely navigate the urban environment. Shield+ includes the features you expect to find in a collision avoidance system such as a headway monitoring warning to keep drivers a safe distance from other vehicles, pedestrian and collision warning, alerting drivers to the presence of pedestrians or cyclists ahead of them but also includes features of special importance to large vehicles navigating city streets.
The blind spot detection system constantly monitors a truck or bus’s blind spots, warning drivers when pedestrians or cyclists enter these dangerous areas. Equally important, the system is intelligent enough to ignore inanimate objects and to distinguish between situations where the driver needs to be warned and those where immediate emergency action is required.
There is also a big bonus for smart city planners. Shield+ includes hot spot mapping, giving you concrete information on danger zones and potential hazards along your city’s transit routes.
In the field, Shield+™ has already started producing results. During a pilot study conducted by the Washington State Transit Insurance Pool none of the buses equipped with Shield+ was involved in a collision - as compared to 284 events experienced by non-equipped buses. Following the success of this study, one of the participants, Pierce Transit decided to retrofit its entire fleet of 176 vehicles with Shield+ and shortly afterward the Barcelona City Council decided to install the system on some of its municipal vehicles.
Between blind spot protection and smarter city planning we can start making serious strides toward cleaner, less congested cities while simultaneously progressing toward our goal of zero pedestrian and cyclist fatalities.
Find out more about protecting vulnerable road users while giving a boost to your city planning at Mobileye.