Making Roads Even Safer

More exciting new to share:  Our first steps to integrating with physical traffic signs!

Traffic signs and lights are one of the most ubiquitous technologies on earth, used by billions of people daily and widely adopted across the globe.   However, getting the data needed to decide where signs go and how to improve traffic flows is not easy.   We are excited to be in a cooperation agreement with SWARCO, one of the world’s largest traffic light & signage companies, to see how our data can improve the larger traffic network.

It's always fun to discuss these new milestones, but I know in so many ways we are just getting started.  I couldn't be more excited about the future of Signal and our mission to eliminate traffic accidents. 

Making Roads Safer for Everyone

Today, we are happy to a exciting new milestone for Signal: The launch of our free Signal App!

Since starting Signal, we’ve heard hundreds of heartbreaking stories of loved ones whose traffic accidents could have be prevented if signs could simply communicate instructions more clearly.  As you drive, our app alerts clearly communicates existing signs (such as school zones and 2-way stops), and unseen hazards (such dangerous intersections and official pedestrian crossings).   

We could never have achieved this milestones without the tremendous support of a wider community.  Thus, I want to thank the countless local government professionals who have helped us locate existing signs are, our sources for accident data, and of course our community who regularly reports issues to warn other drivers .   Thank you!

 

Signal...Now With Traffic Lights!

Today, we're happy to announce we've added traffic lights on Signal!

Up to now, our focus has been on re-inventing the traffic sign, wanting to ensure you didn't miss an existing sign or get into trouble because a sign should have been there.  

But signs aren't the only items we needed to innovate on to make roads safer; Just like traffic signs, traffic lights have their share of problem.  They can be hard to see, you don't know how long you'll have to wait, and cities often don't have the data to optimize their timing. 

So starting today, you'll get alerted when you drive be a traffic light and get your estimated wait time.   We hope it's another small way we can help keep our roads safer!

A Story from A Uber RIDE

Recently, an Uber passenger & Signal friend told us the following story, which we did our best to paraphrase below.  Warmed our hearts :)

I had Signal running and was testing it with a Uber driver, when it alerted us of a recent fatal accident at a pretty quiet intersection on 16th and Harrison street in San Francisco. We of course slowed down and stopped at a red light.
About 5 seconds later, a van ran right into a bicycle!  I stopped to help to the biker and call the police, joining other people on the street who ran over.  The biker was taken to a hospital, but she was alert and I think she will be okay.
As I was giving my account to the police, a person who works at an office nearby caught me to ask what was going.  He said there have been three major accidents there this month.  Of course, when I drove by there the next day, there was no other stop sign or traffic light change...
I'm thankful I have Signal!

How much does a traffic signal cost today?

In 1868, the first gas lit traffic sign was installed in England.  In 1915, Cleveland was the first city to install an electrical traffic sign.  And in 1917, Salt Lake City created the first interconnected traffic sign, controlling 6 signals with a manual switch. Nearly, 100 years, later you'd think the costs would have fallen!

Instead, costs of this simple technology are booming.  

  • Today, taxpayers pay $250,000-$500,000 to just purchase and install a traffic signal.

  • The US DOT estimates there are about $82.7B publicly invested in these assets (over $300 per car in the US!).

And these costs don't even include that maintenance required for the 300,000 traffic signals alone in the US.  Each has an electrical bill of about $8,000 every year - and require the services of city planner, police and city approval processes required to keep up every signal. 

But is the money working?  

Not really.  The DOT eports more than half of US local traffic agencies (49%) report "having little to no regular, ongoing program for performance monitoring system to assess operational objectives".   And half of the agencies do not "assess the quality of data collected...as a result..using faulty data to analyze and time their traffic signals"

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At Signal, we think we can create better traffic system.   We can make it smarter, more accurate,  and much, much cheaper.   For 100 years, we've depended on the little, metal traffic sign.  It's time to retire it!

A look into our safety testing

One of the key questions we are asked is how do we test our product?  

Everything we do in our product - the fonts, colors, time to show events, and of course what events to show are meticulously thought through with the idea of making the driver safer.  Here's a couple examples of how we make our product.

How do we decide when to show an alert?

Much or our work requires deciding where to show an alert.  We coorlealate accidents, road geometries and dozens of other factors to determine when to show information.  This information is gathered from public data, our partners and cities private data, and hired folks who travel the city looking for critical situations.

We also take into account the driver, modeling speeds and behaviors on when to show information.  For instance, our research from this model shows that on this curve, if you mis-judge the available friction by just 3%, the deviations from the path can be as much as 12m - causing a spin out.  This allows us to pinpoint exactly when to show information. 


How do we decide what to show?

Using sophisticated vehicle simulation labs, we are able to test everything from time to show information to what is shown.  

In the example below, drivers were shown a no win scenario - where nearly everyone was distracted and missed a pedestrian crossing.  By showing the right information and the right time, drivers with Signal focused on the road and were better at avoiding the accidents.

We take safety seriously.   Each test has its limits, and we constantly get feedback from users and use our product ourselves.   Drop us a line and let us know if you ever want to be a tester!