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ITS Forum 2017 at DLSU

We are holding a forum on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) today at the De La Salle University (DLSU) along Taft Avenue, Manila. Following is the banner and the program as of February 16:

its-forum-2017-bannerfinal_program_its_asof_feb16In the workshops scheduled in the afternoon, the plan is to review the DOST roadmap and the ITS Master Plan. The DOST roadmap is basically on the research and development agenda of the agency. In the past, this has been associated mainly with the Engineering Research and Development for Technology (ERDT) program of which several major universities are a part of including UP Diliman, DLSU, Ateneo and Mapua Institute of Technology. Eventually, ITS became the theme for other R&D including those that were packaged as ITS but not necessarily falls under the category (i.e., projects like the AGT, hybrid bus and bike share are more sustainable transport than ITS).

The ITS Master Plan is actually something developed under a project implemented through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) more than 6 years ago and originally only for Metro Manila. This plan is being eyed as the foundation for a bigger one that hopefully would apply to the rest of the country.

In-vehicle tools for road safety

I recently came across a provincial bus operator who is promoting a device for limiting the speeds of vehicles. He states that all their buses are fitted with the device and together with an on-board camera and GPS, they are able to monitor their buses and ensure the safety and security of their passengers. It’s always good to know there are responsible and progressive bus operators like him. Unfortunately, his kind is a minority among many who appear to be after the proverbial quick buck rather than ensuring a high quality of service for travelers.

Devices limiting the speeds of vehicles are not new. These have been installed in many public transport and commercial vehicles like buses and trucks in order to regulate their speeds along highways and streets. Trucks from Japan are fitted with these devices and those second hand trucks being sold in the Philippines have these but are allegedly disabled by their new owners. They are not violating any laws here as there are no regulations requiring such devices to be installed in vehicles.

Tracking devices that include GPS are more recent technologies being used mainly by logistics companies to track their vehicles. These are particularly important for trucks laden with high value cargo or for delivery vans who schedules and routes need to be managed to ensure timely delivery of packages consigned to them. Data from these devices would allow for the assessment of driving speeds and behavior such as lane changing that can be used to determine if drivers are, for example, reckless. The same data can also be used to evaluate fuel efficiency.

Such devices also have research applications because data can be used to determine real-time traffic conditions. In fact, there have been probe car studies conducted in other countries such as Japan, Thailand and Indonesia where taxis were employed to gather traffic information along urban road networks (e.g., Tokyo, Bangkok, Jakarta). Similar experiments can be implemented for Philippine cities to derive traffic information that can be used to guide travelers regarding travel times and route planning.

Perhaps the DOTC through the LTO and the LTFRB, should look into the mandatory installation and use of these devices to regulate vehicle speeds for public and freight transport and also monitor driver behavior. Mandatory speed regulation devices as well as tracking systems have a high potential for weeding out reckless, irresponsible drivers that will ultimately lead to a reduction in road crashes that have resulted in serious injuries and loss of lives. Definitely, there will be objections or opposition to such a requirement but these devices can be justified given the clamor for safer transport and safer roads. After all, everyone of us are vulnerable road users where even the safest driver can be involved in crashes. It takes only one reckless driver or rider to cause a crash.