CBS This Morning recently highlighted Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) research into more efficient methods to improve winter travel conditions.
CBS had sent a crew to Michigan on Jan. 15 to interview an MDOT engineer and shoot footage of some of the 60 fleet vehicles MDOT is using to conduct sensor technology research along the I-94 corridor in nine Michigan counties. The footage and interviews became part of a segment focusing on three states, Minnesota, Nevada and Michigan, testing high-tech tools to improve road conditions related to winter weather and potentially save more lives.
MDOT's Integrated Mobile Observations (IMO) research is being conducted by the Federal Highway Administration Roadway Weather Management Program, MDOT, and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). The project involves collecting data from 60 fleet vehicles traveling on portions of I-94 on a regular basis, including 20 snowplows and 11 light vehicles on the southwest portion of I-94 in Berrien, Van Buren, Kalamazoo, and Calhoun counties; 15 light fleet vehicles on the middle portion of I-94 in Jackson and Washtenaw counties; and 14 light fleet vehicles on the southwest portion of I-94 in Wayne, Macomb, and St. Clair counties.
"This technology has the very real potential to make winter driving safer and winter road maintenance more efficient and effective," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "Since the CBS This Morning segment was picked up by local affiliates across Michigan today, many more Michigan residents are now aware of MDOT's role in national transportation research."
CBS called the IMO research a "new weapon for tracking ice and snow-covered roads." IMO Project Manager Steve Cook emphasized the research is being done to develop technology that will prioritize winter maintenance to improve safety, save money and have less of an impact on the environment by reducing the amounts of salt and chemicals being used to clear roads.
"Information from these vehicles is important in three ways," said Cook. "The data will allow us to provide better forecasts and information for the operators who are managing the storm, make roads safer for drivers, and help protect the environment."
MDOT says: Drive like you want to make it home tonight.