Thursday, January 24, 2013

Innovative Sobriety & Highway Enforcement Tools

A UC Riverside professor and his students embrace intelligence-driven highway enforcement, for citizens, to combat drunk driving.

A smartphone application. A computer science professor from UC Riverside with the help of two students has developed a smart phone application that allows citizen drivers to participate in intelligence-driven highway enforcement, specifically to combat drunk driving. Professor Frank Vahid and UCR computer science majors Timothy Cherney and Daniel de Haas developed the free program called DuiCam which allows a mounted Android or iPhone to video record 30 minutes of highway activity.

Should drivers suspect dangerous drunk driving or any other serious illegal activity such as a hit-and-run, they can pull over, dial 911, and forward any relevant footage to law enforcement with a push of a few buttons. The program could also be used to document traffic collisions, reducing the speculation of who is at fault. Many transit buses and trains are already equipped with similar cameras and recording devices, but UCR has now provided a free software alternative for private motorists. Obviously Vahid, Cherney and de Haas want to get Southern California moving safely. They are patriots for developing a free citizen's intelligence-driven enforcement tool to combat drunk driving. This tool also opens the door for even more efficient and more powerful CHP enforcement innovations at minimal costs.

Take a look at this Transit Coalition conceptual enforcement graphic of the planned I-15 Tolled Express Lanes in Riverside County. The concept shows a point-of-view from a CHP patrol car with an enforcement computer monitor with multiple intelligence-driven features. The monitor is connected with the patrol's video camera and uses existing radar technology to clock a vehicle's speed. Using a connected remote infrared scanning system, the monitor also shows the vehicle occupancy count. For non-HOV's, the computer can also check for the presence of a valid FasTrak, link the transponder to an account, and show whether it was properly mounted upon HOT lane entry. Intelligence-driven enforcement has a future in transportation.

A rendering of the I-15 HOT Lanes. Meanwhile, Los Angeles Metro has been responding to criticism regarding the usage policy of the I-110 Metro ExpressLanes which includes numerous complaints of worsened traffic congestion along the general purpose lanes. The agency is exploring four alternatives. Could it be that Metro is considering eliminating the FasTrak mandate for carpools and adopting intelligence-driven HOV enforcement for the I-110? Sadly, this wise alternative is not being considered. By the looks of Metro's proposals, the discussion is all about the $3 monthly FasTrak account fee, not about moving legit non-transponder HOV's like private sector buses.

This Greyhound bus, for example, was found sitting in traffic along the 91 Freeway during a Coalition field study last weekend, all due to a transponder mandate for 3+ HOV's to use the 91 Express Lanes. That Greyhound coach alone lost approximately 10-15 minutes worth of trip time in congestion, a preventable expense that gets paid for by the rider. Southern California transportation officials need to get out, spend a few days in San Diego County, the Bay area, Seattle, Denver, Utah, and Minneapolis and see exactly how agencies there operate their toll lanes done right.

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