Outreach efforts identify near-term action items to promote connected vehicle deployment in rural areas.

The USDOT conducted a Rural Connected Vehicle Gap Analysis which identified factors impeding deployment and recommendations for moving forward with connected vehicles in rural areas.

Date Posted

Rural Connected Vehicle Gap Analysis: Factors Impeding Deployment and Recommendations for Moving Forward

Summary Information

The focus of the Rural Connected Vehicle Gap Analysis was to identify potential challenges pertaining to the deployment of connected vehicles across rural areas, and potential solutions that address the identified challenges. Decades of study regarding rural transportation needs indicate that rural areas share certain transportation hurdles that differ from those in urban areas. Due to the lower population rates in rural areas, there is typically less funding for transportation maintenance and traffic management. Rural areas also have a higher occurrence of fatal road crashes than the urban roadways. The opportunity for improved safety and operating conditions that connected vehicles offers rural communities is great. This study identifies the gap(s) restricting or hindering rural deployment of connected vehicle technologies.

Rural transportation leaders frequently assert that it is difficult to find funding to support everyday road maintenance, construction and operations. It is more difficult to justify allocating money for connected vehicle technologies due to some misunderstandings  that negatively impacts the decision-makers’ willingness to deploy these technologies. Reoccurring perceptions or concerns regarding connected vehicles include:
  • Respondents and decision makers perceive V2I technologies as largely utilized to address congestion issues.
  • Connected vehicle applications are not mature enough for decision makers to base funding decisions around them.
  • There is skepticism regarding connected vehicle technologies and what is involved in ensuring that they function properly.
  • The cost of deploying connected vehicle technology and applications in rural areas is assumed to be particularly high.

Recommended action items to address the rural connected vehicle deployment challenges:

  • Develop connected vehicle sustainability plan. Although connected and automated vehicle technologies appear to be a few years off, developing sustainability plans is a relatively inexpensive action item that will aid in setting a vision for connected and automated vehicle technologies.
  • Support trial deployments. Trial deployments are effective in demonstrating the effectiveness and benefits of connected vehicle technologies on rural roadways. The research team recommends the following locations and problems areas for testing:
    • Remote and high speed curves with a high frequency of crashes, high number of fatal or severe crashes, likely without access to traditional power and telecommunications sources.
    • Turns across non-signalized, high-speed intersections with curve and/or horizontal alignment challenges, where there is a high frequency of crashes.
    • Rural signalized intersections.
    • Rural freeways.
    • Freight routes which connect hubs, such as a port or a freight depot or rail facility, to help identify larger benefits including those that impact global agricultural or manufacturing supply chains.
    • Remote rural roadways prone to extreme winter weather, where weather data is being collected manually using fleet vehicles, in order to compare the results of such a system with one running on advanced vehicle technologies.
    • High animal collision areas, including in areas with warning systems currently in place, so that the added value of a connected vehicle deployment can be assessed.
  • Innovative approaches to funding. There are several instruments that agencies can use to fund deployment of innovative transportation projects such as connected vehicles.
    • The FAST Act Technology grants are funded as approximately $60 million per year for the years 2016 to 2020, inclusive.
    • Public-Private Partnerships (P3) can be used for expanding telecommunications infrastructure. USDOT's Build America Bureau has been created specifically in order to expand, innovate, and deliver transportation facilities and services, and combined with the Center for Innovative Finance Support, provides information and expertise in the use of different P3 approaches.
    • Set-aside funding specifically for rural connected vehicle deployments.
    • Create business models that are attractive to third parties who could provide the cost of the deployments.
  • Enact benefits and outreach plan. A well thought out outreach and building awareness of technology benefits impacting roadway operations as well as regional economies is key to get the support of transportation agencies, elected officials, and communities in rural areas. Develop an outreach and awareness program that:
    • Raises awareness about rural transportation needs that are best served by connected vehicle technology.
    • Promotes and educates the transportation providers on the utility of rural connected vehicle technology.
    • Creates opportunities for rural communities to deploy connected vehicle technology that minimizes obstacles to deployment and addresses sustainability measures early in the planning process.
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