(Rebecca or Anne can put media in touch with any of the other project partners)
Nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. To combat this issue and improve road user safety overall, leaders in transit, government, industry, and academia are joining forces to evaluate an innovative Pedestrian Avoidance Safety System (PASS) for transit buses. If successful, the technology could be implemented in transit fleets across the nation.
The project is funded by a $1.66 million grant from
the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), as well as additional funds and
support from the following organizations and individuals:
- Pierce Transit (formally Pierce County Public
Transportation Benefit Area Corporation)
- Washington State Transit Insurance Pool
- Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI)
- University of Washington
- DCS Technologies, Inc.
Reinsurance America, Inc.
- University of South Florida’s Center for Urban
- Veritas Forensic Accounting and Economics
- Janet Gates, project coordinator
- Jerome M. Lutin, PhD, LLC, principal researcher
Using Lidar technology, PASS, developed by DCS
Technologies, Inc., is designed to help professionally-trained operators avoid
or reduce the severity of a collision. When an imminent collision with a
pedestrian, bicyclist, or vehicle is detected, PASS warns the driver and
automatically decelerates the bus, thus, providing operators more time and
distance to bring their buses to a controlled stop. This is especially
important in the transit industry, which often carries standing or unrestrained
passengers. The goal of the project is to demonstrate this technology’s
potential to significantly reduce the frequency and severity of bus collisions
and provide estimates of the potential magnitude of reductions in collisions
“Pierce Transit is excited to be part of this
important research project, which is seeking new ways to enhance the safety of
transit riders, bus operators, pedestrians and others in communities across the
country,” said Pierce Transit CEO Sue Dreier. “We take pride in being a
forward-looking agency and are pleased to be able to help with the exploration
of new and innovative safety solutions.”
Earlier this year Pierce Transit shipped a bus to
the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), the largest transportation
safety institute in the United States, to install and evaluate the equipment
under controlled conditions on the Virginia Smart Roads testing facility. VTTI is currently evaluating
approximately 150 scenarios under various weather and lighting conditions using
two main props: an inflatable vehicle target for forward collision testing and
a remote-controlled “pedestrian” mannequin that can simulate standing, walking,
and running in front of the bus. Effects on passenger motion are also being
studied, as well as driver opinions of and trust in the technology.
“Our data shows that pedestrian distraction has
increasingly become a serious problem in recent years. On behalf of Pierce
Transit, we are evaluating a promising collision avoidance technology that
could potentially help address this issue and increase safety for all road
users,”explained Andrew Krum, senior
research associate for VTTI’s Center for Truck and Bus Safety. “This important work would not be
possible without the collaboration between the Department of Transportation,
Pierce Transit and the Federal Transit Administration. They are all promoting
technology advancement and safety for pedestrians. We feel that automated
collision avoidance systems like this are good both economically for our
nation’s transportation system and for the wellbeing of our communities. The
Virginia Tech Transportation Institute is here to provide careful research to
help emerging technologies meet the needs of humans.”
The project seeks to ensure the Pedestrian
Avoidance Safety System is successful in a variety of road user scenarios, can
be installed into new and legacy buses, and is accepted by a highly-trained
community of professional drivers.
“DCS Technologies, Inc. is excited to partner with the FTA, Pierce Transit and others on this critical safety research project. We are confident that our PASS active collision avoidance system will reduce transit vehicle accidents, improving safety for passengers and pedestrians, reducing overall costs for transit agencies, and improving public transportation in our communities. PASS is designed for easy integration into existing fleets and new transit vehicles, providing improved safety today and into the future,” said Dave Valadez, president of DCS Technologies, Inc.
Other collision avoidance technologies are
operating on streets and highways nationwide in light vehicles and commercial
trucks. This project provides an important opportunity to test the application
in transit buses, which have and will continue to play a critical role in
providing equitable transportation for the country, as well as reducing
congestion and carbon emissions.
Following testing, the data will be analyzed, and
the FTA will receive a report that will include items such as the project’s
cost/benefit, the return on investment, any impact on insurance claims, and
reductions in collisions and near misses.Industry organizations can then use this data in considering whether to
equip their transit buses with driver assistance technology in the future.
“Each year, transit buses and vans report about
4,000 collisions, 16,000 injuries, 100 fatalities, and over 700 million dollars
in casualty and liability expenses,” according to Dr. Jerome Lutin, retired
Senior Director of Statewide and Regional Planning at New Jersey Transit and
current principal research investigator. “Many of those are preventable, and
the technology being tested by Pierce Transit at VTTI has the potential to
significantly reduce those numbers.”
The project is anticipated to be complete by 2021.
Project Partners and Roles:
- Pierce Transit (formally Pierce County Public Transportation Benefit
Area Corporation). Pierce Transit is the sole transit partner involved
in this national FTA research project. Following the work at VTTI, Pierce
Transit will test the technology on four Pierce Transit buses in Pierce County,
Washington, without passengers on board for about six months. If successful, the
agency will add the technology to 26 additional buses (30 total) to test in
revenue service for another approximately 18 months.
- Washington State Transit Insurance Pool (WSTIP). WSTIP is a risk pool consisting of 25 Washington transit agencies. WSTIP
is a financial contributor to the project and has the role of managing the
research partners. WSTIP pioneered an earlier research study on collision
avoidance technology that was a catalyst for this enhanced project. WSTIP’s
goal is to find technology that will assist bus operators with the safe
operation of their vehicles and can be retrofitted to the existing fleet. WSTIP
has strategic goals focused on reducing rear-end collisions and bus
- Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. VTTI is evaluating the PASS system to ensure it meets user needs.
- University of Washington. The Smart
Transportation Applications and Research Laboratory (STAR Lab) at the
University of Washington is focusing primarily on developing an on-board
video-based near-miss detection tool for evaluating off-the-shelf collision
warning systems and designing data reduction, storage, and analysis
methodologies for efficient data management and safety analysis.
- DCS Technologies, Inc. DCS
Technologies is the PASS technology vendor.
- Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. In
collaboration with the Washington State Transit Insurance Pool, Munich RE
launched a pilot program equipping 38 transit buses with collision avoidance
technology known as Mobileye Shield+TM. Rosco®Vision
Systems is the official North American provider and driver-interface
manufacturer of this system. The advanced driver assistance technology empowers
drivers to avoid and mitigate imminent collisions, protecting the most
vulnerable and difficult-to-observe road users: cyclists, pedestrians and
- University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research. Through a cooperative agreement with FTA’s Office of Research,
Demonstration, and Innovation. CUTR is working with Pierce Transit to coordinate
and monitor performance measures, and the collection and analysis of deployment
data to track those performance measures.
- Veritas Forensic Accounting and Economics. Veritas will be analyzing the technology’s return on investment.
- Janet Gates. Janet Gates is the project coordinator.
- Jerome M. Lutin, PhD, LLC. Jerome Lutin
is a retired senior director of Statewide and Regional Planning at New Jersey
Transit and is currently serving as the study’s principal research
Photo and video by Stephen Tanner.