The Path to Traffic Safety and Efficiency Begins with Roadway Digitization

Vivek Kumar and Omer Kukul
Roadway digitization aims to improve traffic flow and safety, support smart cars and autonomous vehicles, and reduce environmental impact. Learn more about what it will bring to cities, drivers and businesses.

Amid urban population growth, cities around the globe are under pressure to reduce traffic congestion and the environmental impacts that come along with it.


The typical U.S. driver lost 51 hours to congestion in 2022 (that’s nearly one hour each week, and 15 more hours than in 2021). Even with remote work and unpredictable fuel prices impacting these numbers, it’s expected that traffic congestion will continue to increase over time.


As traffic numbers rise, and more vehicles pack onto roadways, prioritizing road safety and efficiency will only become more critical for cities, municipalities and states that want to decrease environmental impact, reduce costs, improve living conditions and protect drivers and passengers.


But there’s only so much of a difference that roadway design, signage and pavement markings can make in creating safe and efficient roadways. To make a true and lasting impact, roadway digitization and innovations like intelligent traffic system (ITS) solutions will be necessary.


Examples of roadway digitization in action

These solutions can take many forms. Here are a few real-world examples of how roadway digitization is shaping up in states across the country:


  • A Kansas City tech startup is developing a technology that increases road safety through sensors embedded inside pavement to monitor traffic and roadway conditions. It also provides Wi-Fi.

  • In Georgia, an 18-mile stretch of roadway boasts a sensor system that analyzes tire condition and sends status reports to vehicle owners so they can address problems before their vehicle experiences a problem on the roadway.
  • The Utah Department of Transportation is installing vehicle-to-infrastructure as part of its connected vehicle ecosystem that will use sensors and software to collect and transmit data in an effort to help vehicles move efficiently and prevent accidents.


Drivers won’t be the only ones benefiting from roadway digitization. The data captured in this process can help everyone improve efficiency, safety and quality of life. For example:


  • Businesses can use the data to make decisions about locations along specific roadways based on traffic count.

  • Cities, municipalities, state authorities and private entities can rely on data to adjust traffic lights to improve flow, reduce operating costs for tolling, remotely monitor conditions and report on repair needs, determine how to spend maintenance funds, enhance public transportation and reduce carbon emissions.

  • Emergency services can connect to up-the-second information about accidents and traffic disruptions so that they know how to respond safely and efficiently.


Making road travel smarter, safer and more efficient

No matter what technology or system is being used to improve roadway safety and efficiency, it aims to do at least one of these things:


  • Improve traffic flow and safety by allowing vehicles and infrastructure to talk to each other to avoid accidents and traffic jams and even minimize the number of red lights a driver encounters.

  • Support autonomous vehicles, which rely on sensors and connectivity with other cars and infrastructure to navigate roadways and react to obstacles. New cars include hundreds of sensors that can detect, track and share information and support innovation like journey planning, driver assistance and internet connectivity. They collect data from various sensors for decision-making purposes. To take advantage of everything smart and autonomous cars offer, roadways must adapt to these changes.

  • Reduce environmental impact by decreasing idle time spent in traffic jams and ensuring that vehicles follow the most fuel-efficient routes.


As with anything, improving roadway safety and efficiency through roadway digitization comes down to data. To function, these systems must have information about:

  • The types of cars on the road
  • Traffic levels
  • Potential areas of congestion
  • Where vehicles are going
  • Environmental impacts of travel
  • Road conditions
  • Accidents or emergencies
  • Toll usage and fees


And in order to capture this data, the right network architecture is necessary to make smart roads possible and support huge volumes of data coming from multiple sources at once, such as cameras, detectors, lights, meters, sensors, apps and connected vehicles.


If you plan to invest in roadway digitization, then the first step you should take is to ensure that your network can support the systems and technologies you choose now—along with any other technology you may deploy down the road. A futureproof network is key to achieving a solid ROI and making sure smart technology functions as expected.


Learn more about how Belden can help you embrace digital technologies that improve road safety and efficiency today while laying the foundation for a more connected future.


Related resources:

The Future of EV Charging Infrastructure: Challenges of Deploying at Scale

Using the Edge to Enhance Cybersecurity in Automotive Applications

The Role of Mass Transit Automation in Passenger Satisfaction