Smart Highways:

An Assessment of Their Potential to Improve Travel

PEMD-91-18: Published: May 1, 1991. Publicly Released: May 1, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the potential of intelligent vehicle and highway systems (IVHS) technologies, focusing on: (1) the results of major IVHS studies; (2) current IVHS tests; and (3) possible barriers to effective IVHS deployment.

GAO found that: (1) although empirically based results were relatively sparse, the 38 studies reviewed demonstrated a high consensus that the implementation of IVHS technologies could result in reduced congestion, economic benefits, safety improvements, reduced fuel consumption, and air quality improvements; and (2) the nine IVHS operational tests underway emphasized the need for a federal role in ensuring effective IVHS evaluations, focused on near-term advanced traffic management systems, examined congestion reduction effects, and featured some form of federal, local, or private cooperation. In addition, GAO found that the three major barriers to effective IVHS deployment included: (1) burdens associated with federal involvement, state and local level resource limitations, an uncertain consumer market, and possible liability problems; (2) institutional barriers concerning Department of Transportation (DOT) capabilities to execute the program, private-sector and public cooperation, and intergovernmental cooperation; and (3) technological barriers in setting technological standards.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The recently passed highway bill reflects the report recommendation.

    Matter: Congress should explicitly note in IVHS legislation the goals of congestion, safety, the economy, energy, and the environment and, within this legislative guidance, require DOT to develop and execute research aimed at determining the role of IVHS technologies in achieving these concurrent goals.

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The recently passed highway bill reflects the recommendation.

    Matter: Congress should consider requiring DOT, in IVHS legislation, to select, design, and evaluate high-priority operation field tests in accordance with a strategic IVHS research plan.

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The recently passed highway bill reflects the recommendation.

    Matter: Congress should include in IVHS legislation a requirement for an analysis of optimal funding options to achieving desired IVHS benefits and that such analysis include a consideration of alternative federal, local, and private partnership arrangements.

 

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