‘Tech-savvy’ moves to save lives on roads

EU Parliament says all cars must be able to automatically call for help by 2015

MEP Jim Higgins said  only some cars offer a monitored phone service which involves the car telephoning a monitoring service and reporting its position in the event of it being involved in a crash.  Photograph: Alan Betson

MEP Jim Higgins said only some cars offer a monitored phone service which involves the car telephoning a monitoring service and reporting its position in the event of it being involved in a crash. Photograph: Alan Betson

Mon, Mar 17, 2014, 01:00


The National Roads Authority (NRA) is to deploy a range of “intelligent transport systems” to improve travels times; warn drivers of weather, dangers and delays ahead; and automatically notify emergency services in the event of crashes or even the potential for crashes.

In keeping with its role as motorway managers, as opposed to the construction remit the authority had in the past, the NRA has developed a motorway traffic control centre, based at the Dublin Port Tunnel offices, to monitor more than 65 million journeys a year made on the motorway network.

The control centre, managed by port tunnel operator Egis, will supply information to the NRA phone app which gives motorists route information including about weather, travel time, crashes, road conditions and potential diversions.


Inter-urban routes
The app also links to CCTV cameras based on the main inter-urban routes. The NRA stresses the app is for users to plan journeys and not for use while driving.

Also planned for pilot testing on the M7 later this year is bluetooth-enabled monitoring of traffic. Drivers with bluetooth switched on in their cars or on their phones will automatically provide information to roadside sensors, feeding into the control centre’s information on travel time. A pilot project involving the deployment of roadside messaging signs is also to be rolled out on the M11/N11 later this year.


Speed-detection systems
The control centre is also developing systems that can detect the speeds of traffic slowing down and decipher if this is likely to be caused by increasing traffic volume, or if it is more sudden, indicating the possibility of a crash. It will also be able to tell if vehicles are driving the wrong way, or if an inappropriate image, for example that of a cyclist or a pedestrian, is detected on a motorway, and warn operators of a crash or potential for a crash.

The mov e comes as the European Parliament approved the mandatory installation of automatic emergency phones in all cars and vans by 2015. MEP Jim Higgins said currently only some cars offer a monitored phone service which involves the car telephoning a monitoring service and reporting its position in the event of it being involved in a crash.