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Tampa Awarded $17 Million for Connected Vehicle Pilot Program

Quincy J. Walters
Sen. Bill Nelson

Imagine that you're driving and you approach a blind corner. What you don't know is that another car is approaching at a high rate of speed. Then, your car automatically stops - avoiding a collision on its own. 

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson said that this isn't technology of the future - it's the technology of today. 

"We're bringing transportation into the 21st century," Nelson said. "And Tampa is at the center of it all."

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $17 million to the city of Tampa, Hillsborough County, and local traffic agencies to implement the Connected Vehicle (CV) pilot program. It's a program that will outfit  vehicles and roadside equipment with technology that can communicate with each other. 

Credit Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority
1. Roadside equipment can be in traffic signals 2. Sensors along roads can monitor traffic conditions 3. Cellphone towers can transmit traffic info to drivers 4. Equipment could allow cars to communicate with each other 5. Wire sensors in the road can collect traffic speed and volume 6. Smartphone apps can give real-time warnings and alerts to pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.

Transportation Under Secretary Peter Rogoff said Tampa is one of four cities to receive money to implement the pilot program, which aims to save time, the environment and lives. 

Credit Quincy J. Walters / WUSF News
Department of Transportation Under Secretary Peter Rogoff

"It holds the ability to give millions and millions of hours back to traveling Americans in congested cities like Tampa," he said. 

Increasing traffic flow will decrease the amount of time cars spend on Tampa Bay roadways, thus reducing Tampa's carbon footprint. 

Rogoff also said the program has the potential to save lives, reducing traffic fatalities by 80%. 

"Everyone has had the experience of changing lanes, almost running into that car they didn't see," he said. "That won't happen if your car knows that car is there or that pedestrian is in the sidewalk. That's how we save lives." 

Officials say there's no specific timeline for launching the pilot program. 

Quincy J. Walters is a junior at USF, majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. His interest in journalism spurred from the desire to convey compelling narratives. He has written for USF’s student paper, The Oracle and is currently the videographer for Creative Pinellas. If he’s not listening to NPR, he’s probably listening to Randy Newman.
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