House bill stresses smart transport

House Committee on Science

In a busy Capitol Hill session today, the House Science Committee approved a transportation research bill that emphasizes development of intelligent transportation systems.

The committee approved six pieces of legislation by voice vote, including the Surface Transportation Research and Development Act of 2004.

This bill is designed to increase research and development programs to meet goals for improving the transportation system, including relieving congestion and improving the collection and analysis of transportation statistics.

Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) in development by the Transportation Department include the 511 traveler information service, the Vehicle Infrastructure Integration program, a wireless enhanced 911 system and the integration of transportation systems into the issuance of the AMBER Alert program.

An additional intelligent transportation system is the iFlorida project, which receives $10 million in federal ITS funding. The iFlorida system is designed to show how the collection system monitoring and real-time information can improve security, reliability, safety and incident response of the surface transportation system.

In December, the Federal Communications Commission moved forward in a decision to license the dedicated short range communications technology, which is used between vehicles and roadside devices, or vehicles in close range.

One possible use of this technology is for the development of intelligent intersections, at which drivers could be warned of a potential crash as they approach an intersection. Transportation Department officials hope to make this technology available in 2005.

"Fundamental improvements to the entire transportation system depend on high quality transportation research," said Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), who introduced the bill. "More importantly, research saves lives, saves money and saves time."

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