Intelligent Transportation System Standards to Be Tested

Intelligent transportation systems are improving for everyone, from the lone commuter on a rural highway to thousands of office workers taking trains to and from a city each day. The catch is that standards for ITSes are not completely compatible in different regions of the country, from town to town, or even state to state.

That's why the U.S. Transportation Department is looking for test sites to participate in the Intelligent Transportation Systems Standards Testing Program, which is an effort to create transportation safety standards from coast to coast.

"The DOT wants to test these performance standards and gain the support of product vendors and states to the fact that these things work," said Jerry Pittenger, a program manager for standards testing at Columbus, Ohio-based Battelle Corp., which DOT has enlisted to do research on the project.

"We want to show [that] the performance of the ITS standards is there in order to encourage both the public and private sectors to participate," he added. "We want people to recognize the standards and use them ...and basically, the 'people' are the states."

Pittenger said possible test sites could be anything from railroad crossings to individual vehicles. There are about 80 standards on the books, 55 of which will be tested through the sites eventually selected for this program.

ITS standards to be tested include credentials for commercial vehicles, traffic management objects, protocols for buses and forward collision warnings in automobiles.

"The standards are changing some of the infrastructure out there in the field," Pittenger said, "so if you drive a car from the East Coast to the West Coast, everything's done the same way, and the data is translated consistently."

Testing should start at the first site by the end of this year, with the project scheduled to run through the fall of 2001, Pittenger said.

Any state, community or product vendor interested in nominating a test site is encouraged to visit DOT's ITS Standards Web page at www.its.dot.gov/standard/standard.htm.

-- Dan Caterinicchia

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