BLACKSBURG, Va. – The highway can be filled with hazards that range from traffic, to sudden stops, aggressive drivers, blind curves, to distracted drivers.
What if you could predict and prevent crashes before they even happen? That’s the question Feng Guo is working to answer.
Guo is a lead data scientist at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI). He is studying what causes someone to slam on the brakes or swerve, which are both leading indicators of a crash.
Over the past few years, Guo’s been collecting data with the help of thousands of research participants.
“We have 3,500 drivers driving their own cars. We put cameras, we put accelerometers, radar, GPS,” said Guo. ”Continuous data collection for one to two years.”
Guo said they have one million hours of continuous driving data. With that data, Guo can identify what ages groups, road segments or situations are high risk and something can be done about it.
“We can actually develop safety countermeasures and driver education programs to proactively increase safety and reduce crashes,” said Guo.
The research is federally funded, meaning the results will be available to the public. Guo said the implications for traffic safety are monumental.
GPS systems can re-route drivers around high-risk roads. Companies can develop technology to automatically alert authorities to a crash in real time, improve automatic-braking technology, or alert parents if a teen is driving recklessly.
Guo said his research is about saving lives.
“We’re trying to use the latest technologies, information trying to learn how to improve safety and save lives,” said Guo.