Can Drones Help With Traffic?

If you live in America chances are high that you have experienced a traffic jam at some point in your life. While the reasons for traffic backups vary, one of the most common causes stems from emergency services surveying a crash site. A new study believes that we can alleviate those traffic headaches by utilizing drone technology when a crash occurs.

Researchers at Purdue University analyzed several of these crash assessments and posit that these assessments could be faster and more accurate if first responders started to utilize drone technology. Specifically, drones can drastically decrease the time it takes to effectively map a crash a site.

Currently, it takes first responders an average of two to three hours to accurately map the scene of an accident. During this time traffic is directly affected, and slowed by this process. That makes additional accidents increasingly likely. By utilizing drones to map the accident this process can be done more quickly and without affecting actual traffic patterns on the ground.
In fact, according to Ayman Habib, the Purdue professor of Civil Engineering, drones can map those accidents sites in five to eight minutes.

Darcy Bullock, professor of Civil Engineering and the Joint Transportation Research Program director at Purdue spoke with the Insurance Journal about their research. According to Bullock, “It’s the people at the back of the queue where you have traffic stopped who are most vulnerable and an approaching inattentive driver doesn’t recognize that traffic is stopped or moving very slowly until it is too late…The occurrence of these secondary crashes can be reduced by finding ways to safely expedite the clearance time of the original crash.”.

Purdue researchers have done more than just hypothesize, they have actually put their theories to the test with real law enforcement. As the Insurance Journal reports, The Tippecanoe County, Indiana sheriff’s office has used drones to map crash scenes many times in 2018. According to the Sheriff there, “The collaboration with Purdue faculty and students has been tremendously effective in helping our law enforcement, first responders and special teams…The drone technology with the thermal imaging capability helps with all types of emergencies such as search and rescue, aerial support over water for diver teams or in wooded areas and for fugitive apprehension.”.

It’s true that drone technology makes for some incredible photography opportunities, but as Purdue is showing, drones are capable of so much more than that. It’s exciting to see the ways drone use can make us safer in our everyday lives.


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