We think you will agree that it is amazing to realise the breadth and significance of positive outcomes possible with such a (technically) simple system as MOVEMAN. Read through these everyday motoring situations to discover where the strategy could deliver major benefits for the nation and individuals.
Fairer law enforcement
No more high speed chases
No tollway or parking areas infrastructure except signposting
Very flexible road pricing
Automated rewards for good driving patterns
All emergencies, everywhere, immediately reported, enabling rapid response
Cheap alternative to red-light cameras
Universal ‘black box’ accident analysis
Very extensive road research data readily available
High-speed chase scenario When a traffic police officer detects a vehicle that is known to have been involved in criminal activity they might decide to chase the vehicle at high speed; some such high-speed chases have led to accidents where innocent parties have been injured or killed. If the police refrain from pursuing the offender’s vehicle, probably the offender will not be apprehended. Imagine a system that made high-speed chases unnecessary but had a high probability of apprehending the offender.
With the MOVEMAN strategy the vehicle could be followed covertly, avoiding a high-speed chase, keeping the general public safe and also reducing the chance of injury or death of the offender. Also, there should be a better chance of apprehending the offender when the offender is unaware that he or she is being tracked.
Electronic licencing interfacing The introduction of licences in the form of plastic cards with embedded computer chips (such as the new Queensland licences) opens opportunities to interface licences with the proposed in-vehicle units by requiring licences to be swiped or proximity-detected to enable vehicle operation. That would link the driver, not just the vehicle, to the information collected, and also would enable other options such as identifying whether the licence was valid for that vehicle type.
Temporary speed limits Temporary speed limits are variously imposed due to road works, accidents, degraded road condition and adverse weather conditions. A temporary speed limit could be uploaded to vehicles, perhaps limiting the upload to vehicles in a relevant geographical area. If necessary or convenient, a portable GPS unit could be used for the upload, which might be of particular value for road works.
Variable speed limits Variable speed limits are imposed in limited areas, such as metropolitan motorways. The variable speed limits could be automatically uploaded to the central management system and downloaded to vehicles, possibly only those vehicles in the relevant geographical area.
Heavy vehicle speed limiters Disabling speed-limiting devices on heavy vehicles has led to prosecutions. Such devices could be replaced or complemented by the proposed in-vehicle units. Since these would enable continuous remote monitoring and reporting, they should be much more effective.
Parking fee collection Parking charges could be collected by using GPS to register the vehicle’s location for a measured period in a pay parking area. Consequently, boom gates, parking meters, etc. could be eliminated, and charges made on the same basis as for toll roads. Similarly, parking infringements could be registered by using the vehicle’s GPS and time information. Sign posting of parking limits and charges would be necessary, as now, but money collection systems could be eliminated and most, perhaps all, monitoring by parking inspectors could be eliminated.
Road use pricing A variety of charges for road use could be efficiently implemented for specified roads or sections of roads, different types of vehicles (heavy vehicles, taxis, buses, other commercial and private vehicles) and different charges at different times. For example, this could include congestion taxes at varying times for inner city areas and taxes for commercial vehicles in residential areas. Since the information would be incorporated into the map data downloaded to all vehicles, and drivers could be alerted in real time, there would be limited need for sign-posting.
Elimination of most road toll infrastructure Instead of toll booths and electronic tags for toll collection, toll areas could be signposted, but have no other toll-collection infrastructure, Vehicles’ use of toll roads would be transmitted to the central system, because the toll locations data would be included in maps downloaded to vehicles. Then, drivers could be charged directly if they have registered for a particular mode of payment, or drivers may be billed as currently for those that use toll areas without first registering.
Rewards for good driving patterns Advantage could be taken of the ‘intelligence’ of MOVEMAN by assessing the safety and efficiency of driving patterns, and rewarding drivers for good driving patterns. Examples of rewards might include reduced registration costs and reduced road use charges, and also insurance companies could well come on board with reduced premiums. There are current relevant examples, such as insurance companies reducing premiums for young drivers that undertake defensive driving courses.
Driving patterns should be assessed locally within the vehicle by appropriate algorithms rather than loading the system and risking privacy issues by sending raw data to a central system. The only information that would necessarily be sent to the central system would be a driving pattern score derived from a number of parameters.
What constitutes good driving practice would require research, but examples might include: avoidance of frequent rapid acceleration and strong braking; economical patterns of acceleration and braking; maintenance of speed within limits, but not too far below limits except where traffic conditions demand that; reduced speed in adverse whether conditions; no stopping in prohibited or unsafe places; adherence to parking regulations.
As well as rewarding good driving patterns, drivers could be provided with positive and negative feedback, all done locally and automatically, for their education and reinforcement of good driving practice. The local feedback probably should be an essential component, but if drivers wished to opt out of allowing scores to be collected centrally, probably they should be given that option; however, they would then forfeit any potential rewards for good driving practice.
Making red-light cameras obsolete and expanding red-light monitoring Traffic light installations could transmit localised signals corresponding to the state of the lights, so that in-vehicle units could detect the state of the lights and monitor whether or not the vehicle moved through the intersection legally, thereby eliminating the need for expensive red-light cameras. Its likely much lower cost should provide opportunity to fit this system to most, if not all, traffic light installations.
Fairer judgments for excessive speed Consider a driver travelling in a 100 km/h zone who drifts 10 km/h over the speed limit, but does this only once and only briefly in a journey of 300 km, and in an area of relatively low hazard. If traffic police had been monitoring that section of road, the driver quite likely would have been booked for speeding. However, the system could be designed to assess the context of such infringement and make a fairer decision as to whether the driver should be booked or perhaps just receive an automatic real-time warning.
However, consider a driver who frequently exceeds the speed limit by 10 km/hr over a journey of 300 km, but is fortunate not to be speeding in the only area monitored by police at that time; the driver would not be booked. But the proposed system could assess automatically the overall pattern of speeding and report the infringement.
Consider a driver who frequently exceeds speed limits by only 5 km/hr in an urban area. The traffic police might have a policy of booking drivers only if they exceed the limit by more than 5 km/hr. The in-vehicle unit of MOVEMAN could be programmed to register this driving pattern as dangerous and initiate an infringement notice or a warning. As well, the driver could be alerted in real time to their hazardous pattern of driving, warning them that they were risking infringement action, thereby educating the driver and enabling the driver to avoid infringement action.
Black box capability A black box facility could contribute to analysis of road safety issues. The in-vehicle units could serve as ‘black boxes’ if they stored vehicle location, speed, direction and time data permanently when an accident condition was detected, such as air bag deployment, excessive deceleration or overturning. Consequently, the proposed system would enable much better analysis of accidents, enabling more certain and fairer law enforcement, as well as gathering data that could be useful for road safety research.
Major low-cost research opportunities Collection of data anonymous of personal information could provide extremely valuable information for research. For example, traffic counting equipment, currently placed at a very limited number of locations, would be superseded by the ability to count traffic at any location, even off-road, at any time, simply by interrogating the system if relevant person-anonymous data was logged by the central system. In addition, the data could be analysed by vehicle type as well as other parameters such as speed and time.
Rapid response to emergencies There have been many cases of accidents not being detected for a considerable time after the accident has occurred. This is particularly, but not exclusively, single vehicle accidents on little-used roads. In may cases injured people have died when early detection could have saved them. If the accident situation was detected by MOVEMAN (e.g. air bag deployment, excessive deceleration, overturning) a potentially emergency situation could be automatically reported, immediately enabling emergency services are notified. Manual initiation of an emergency should be available also for the case where the driver or passenger was able to trigger that. That would also be available in the cases of emergencies other that accidents, such as breakdown or action by a criminal third party.
The ATRF is the principal transport research conference in Australia and New Zealand. It brings together transport researchers, policymakers, advisors and practitioners from a range of disciplines. Papers are peer-reviewed.