V2X-Equipped Snowplows Improve Safety for Utah Road Users: A Message from ITS JPO Director Brian Cronin

If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, you know how quickly winter weather can cause dangerous conditions for everyone on the road. Efficient snowplow operations are critical to making the roads safe by clearing them of snow and ice. An unnecessary delay could cost someone their life.

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has taken a proactive approach to this challenge through its Snowplow Preemption Project. It’s a great example of how a state department of transportation can improve safety and efficiency using vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology – a powerful tool that enables vehicles to communicate with each other, with other road users, and with roadside infrastructure.

The project began with a V2X application called Transit Signal Priority, which had already been used to help Utah Transit Authority buses stay on schedule by granting them priority at certain traffic signals. Recognizing the versatility of the technology, UDOT creatively adapted it for snowplow operations on select corridors in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area.

The key to V2X is communication. When an active, V2X-equipped snowplow approaches a traffic signal that is similarly equipped with a roadside unit, the snowplow communicates with the signal to request priority. The light turns from red to green, and the snowplow can continue moving through the intersection, clearing snow and ice from the road more quickly.

Snowplow St. George News / STGnews
Photo: St. George News / STGnews

Not surprisingly, a recent study showed that the project had several benefits:

  • Crash rates decreased on V2X-equipped roads compared to non-equipped roads.
  • Overall, roadway crashes were less severe on V2X-equipped roads than on non-equipped roads.
  • Snowplows stopped fewer times, improving the efficiency of operations.

UDOT’s Snowplow Preemption Project is just one example of a replicable, real-world V2X deployment. With the success of this and other deployments, the momentum continues to build. A growing number of infrastructure owner-operators are installing roadside V2X equipment, which can be used for multiple applications. Each deployment brings us one step closer to a future with zero traffic deaths and serious injuries on our nation’s roadways.

Deploying V2X technology is a significant part of our long-term vision here at the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS JPO). I hope you will join us in realizing this vision. Together, we can save lives with connectivity.

Brian Cronin, Director, ITS JPO

Posted 4/17/24