, Professor, UMD-Industrial Engineering
David Wyrick, Former University Researcher, UMD-Industrial Engineering
Each year, snowplows operated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation suffer collisions in which the dump box impacts a bridge while plowing with the box in the raised position. A typical collision of this type requires expenditures of $30,000 to $40,000 and results in potentially dangerous traffic conditions as well as delays in achieving clean pavement status along the affected plowing route. This project investigated the frequency, geographic location, and severity of snowplow-bridge collisions, and assessed the "box-up" warning system in order to identify possible improvements in the driver warning system. In particular, the feasibility of linking onboard GPS technology for Automatic Vehicle Location with the current bridge information database maintained by Mn/DOT was investigated on a route-by-route basis to create collision maps, as it was anticipated that these maps would serve as the basis for a prototype warning system that functions as a bridge proximity sensor to alert the plow driver when approaching a bridge with the dump box at a dangerous height. Such a system could be integrated into an onboard position sensor that interfaces with an automated box controller to lower the box temporarily in the event of an unsafe situation. In addition, this project investigated the effectiveness of different types of warnings (visual, auditory, or tactile) under the conditions of plow operation.