Quality of Life Benefits of Transportation,  Safety,  South Dakota

Technology and Innovation Drive SDDOT

The South Dakota Department of Transportation has increased safety and reliability for drivers with recent upgrades to its traveler information systems.

SDDOT is committed to providing convenient, reliable, and accurate information for travelers to ensure the safest trips possible all year, especially in winter. The new SD511 (formerly Safe Travel USA) website, SDDOT 511 mobile apps, and legacy phone-based 511 Travel Information Service are helping SDDOT achieve this goal. These technologies provide free, up-to-date information on road and weather conditions, road closures, construction work zones, traffic incidents, and commercial vehicle restrictions.

With the latest upgrades, the website and mobile apps feature a new map, access to camera images from more than a hundred roadside locations throughout the state, and additional features like rest areas and traffic speeds. The phone-based 511 now includes voice recognition, allowing for hands-free operation. The apps are free and work on any recent mobile Android or iOS device.

The SDDOT attention to safety and efficiency extends to roadway operations thanks to new state legislation enabling innovations.

The 2020 legislature authorized SDDOT to use variable speed limits to improve winter driving safety on Interstate highways. Electronic speed limit signs will display values appropriate to weather, visibility, and road conditions detected by roadside sensors. Reducing average traffic speed and the variability between vehicles driving slow and fast is expected to decrease crashes and fatalities by as much as half on road segments equipped with this technology. First installations on I-29 and I-90 are planned for 2022 and 2023.

The 2019 legislature authorized truck platooning by qualified drivers on Interstate highways. Platooning allows a second truck to closely follow a lead truck, using radar and vehicle-to-vehicle communication to maintain constant spacing and avoid collisions. Because of improved aerodynamics, both trucks save fuel and emit less exhaust.

Through truck platooning, lead vehicles can save 5 percent of fuel, while following vehicles can save about 10 percent. (Source Peloton Technology)

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