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Utilizing Mobile Ad Hoc Networks to Enhance Road Safety
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    According to analyses by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), connected vehicle innovations could reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities by 50 percent. There are places and times, however, where there will be a need to supplement connected vehicle systems - for example, in rural areas where there may not be enough traffic for connected vehicle systems to be viable or during events when crowds may overwhelm systems that work well during normal operations. The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program supports research that investigates the use of mobile ad hoc networks (MANETs) to enhance road safety for all users. MANETs are a way to communicate on the fly with the hardware and software that is available. MANETs require minimal infrastructure and can be created autonomously as desired. They have been used primarily in military applications and in disaster relief efforts but have not yet been utilized for transportation safety. Another method involves smartphones from nonmotorized travelers directly sending automatic, periodic geographical broadcast messages via a mobile application to nearby vehicles, which, in turn, will send that information to following vehicles. This method eliminates the need to ping other vehicles about the nonmotorized traveler's location and alerts vehicles to their location more quickly. Researchers at the University of Virginia are exploring how to deploy MANETs in areas and scenarios with less infrastructure, such as when pedestrians and bicyclists cross at the mid-block and in more rural or remote settings. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, researchers look to harness MANETs to alert vehicles to pedestrian and bicyclist crossings at intersections through a mobile application.
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