FERGUSON TOWNSHIP — For hundreds of Centre County drivers, the cameras will always be watching.
A study being performed by the Transportation Research Board, in conjunction with Penn State, is equipping up to 240 local cars with an arsenal of cameras and other data collection devices as part of the largest coordinated safety program ever undertaken in the U.S.
The Second Strategic Highway Research Program was created by Congress to investigate the underlying causes of highway crashes and congestion on the country’s roads. When completed, the two-year, $180 million Naturalistic Driving Study will have collected the equivalent of 2,000 driving years of data
from thousands of participants in Centre County, Buffalo, N.Y., Bloomington, Ind., Durham, N.C., Tampa, Fla., and Seattle.
“The study will ensure decisions on matters of transportation are made based on mathematical models rather than educated guesses, like it has in past years,” said Penn State civil engineering professor Paul Jovanis, the principal researcher for the local portion of the project.
On Thursday morning, Jovanis and the rest of the eight-person State College team, composed of professors, researchers and graduate students associated with Penn State’s Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute, outfitted a powder blue Hyundai sedan with five cameras, an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a toolbox full of other gadgets and gizmos. The high-tech equipment will be used to track the driver’s every move, including an eye that wanders off the road and an unsure foot that hesitates before slamming on the brakes.
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