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Study Shows Virtual Traffic Signs Make Driving Safer

April 20, 2005

Virtual traffic signs present traffic-related information through a display in the vehicle. Siemens Communications and two Munich universities released results of a study this month that shows that this type of information would aid traffic flow and safety, according to a press release from the conductors of the study. Virtual traffic signs are integrated into a central traffic management system and transmitted to the vehicle using mobile communication or DVB (digital video broadcast). Drivers would receive traffic information on a dashboard-mounted display or on their windshield via a heads-up display. Initially virtual traffic signs would serve as supplements to currently existing signs and control systems, according to the researchers. For example, they could be used to keep reminding drivers of speed limits. They could also be used to transmit special safety-related information to individual cars, for example when a driver is threatening to enter a freeway in the wrong direction. And truck drivers could benefit by being warned when upcoming overpasses are too low for their particular vehicle. The researchers say that in the future it will be economically feasible over the long term to use virtual traffic signs almost exclusively.If the physical traffic signs for motorists were completely eliminated, virtual traffic signs could guide motorists much more flexibly than today with respect to traffic flow and route selection, the report says. With virtual signs, cities and communities can respond much more cost-effectively to trouble spots such as blocked roadways and warn drivers ahead of time, the report says.
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