Investigate the Effectiveness of Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Technology to Trigger In-Vehicle Messages at Work Zones

Principal Investigator(s):

Chen-Fu Liao, Former Researcher, Mechanical Engineering


Project summary:

According to work zone injury and fatality data published by the Federal Highway Administration, in 2010 there were more than 87,600 crashes in work zones resulting in 576 deaths and 37,476 injuries. More than 20,000 workers are injured in work zones each year, with 12 percent of those due to traffic incidents. The situation got worse in 2012; 609 out of 33,561 road fatalities were in work zones. Challenges to work zone safety and mobility are also exacerbated by the growing issue of distracted driving. In order to reduce risky behavior around workzones, this research examined the effectiveness of using in- vehicle messages to heighten drivers' awareness of safety-critical and pertinent workzone information. This research centered around an inexpensive technology based on Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) tags that can be deployed in or ahead of the workzone. A smartphone app was developed to trigger non- distracting, auditory-visual messages in a smartphone mounted in a vehicle within range of the BLE workzone tags. Messages associated with BLE tags around the workzone can be updated remotely in real time and as such may provide significantly improved situational awareness about dynamic conditions at workzones such as: awareness of workers on site, changing traffic conditions, or hazards in the environment. Experiment results indicated that while travelling at 70 mph (113 km/h), the smartphone app is able to successfully detect a long-range BLE tag placed over 410 feet (125 meters) away on a traffic barrel on a roadway shoulder. Additional experiments are being conducted to validate the system performance under different roadway geometry, traffic, and weather conditions.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2016008
  • Start date: 04/2015
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Transportation Safety and Traffic Flow