When the driver of a connected vehicle enters the downtown end of the Reversible Express Lanes in the wrong direction, the driver receives an alert. (Provided by THEA.)

By Brad Stager

More drivers who use the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway are now eligible to participate in the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) Connected Vehicle (CV) Pilot research project.

The transportation project uses technology to improve traffic safety and movement in downtown Tampa and associated roads such as the Selmon Expressway.

Privately owned and public transit vehicles are equipped with communication technology that allows them to exchange information with each other and traffic infrastructure such as signal devices to prevent crashes and improve traffic flow.

The project is expanding to include more models of cars manufactured by Honda, Toyota and Hyundai. Project coordinators are seeking volunteers who commute on the Selmon Expressway. Participants can receive compensation of up to $550 in Selmon Expressway toll rebates. Applicants must fill out an online questionnaire to determine eligibility to participate in the testing of connected vehicle technology.

Vehicles equipped with THEA CV Pilot technology will receive information about traffic backups and safety warnings, such as alerting a driver to the presence of pedestrians, a hard braking situation or the need to decelerate when traveling into a congested area.

The ability to receive warnings of potential danger on the road is a feature that Sue Chrzan, THEA’s director of public affairs and communications, said has helped improve safety, especially with instances of wrong-way driving on the Selmon Expressway.

“We know that 14 vehicles received warnings that they were about to enter the wrong way on the Selmon Expressway. This information can save lives,” said Chrzan.

Chrzan added that the safety enhancements provided by the connected vehicle technology also improved the overall driving experience for some drivers.

“In our first phase of the pilot, participants felt safer and less stressed knowing that their vehicles could provide alerts to danger,” she said.

The THEA Connected Vehicle Pilot began in 2015 and is funded with $21 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation. This current phase of the THEA CV Pilot research project will last through the summer of 2022. There are more than 1,000 private and public vehicles participating. More information about the project and connected vehicle technology can be found by visiting theacvpilot.com.

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