Tampa officials want to pay drivers to test new crash-avoiding tech on Selmon Expressway

Rebates will be extended to certain Honda, Acura, Hyundai, Kia or Toyota drivers 18 years of age or older.

click to enlarge Tampa officials want to pay drivers to test new crash-avoiding tech on Selmon Expressway
Noah Densmore/Adobe

Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) is calling for volunteers to help with the next stage in testing and implementing “Connected Vehicle Technology” (CVT) in Tampa.

A press release from THEA says it’s recruiting volunteer drivers who have Honda, Acura, Hyundai, Kia or Toyota vehicles for the CVT pilot. Eligible participating drivers receive up to a 30% rebate for tolls on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, which runs from downtown Tampa all the way to the ‘burbs of Brandon and Riverview area.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, CVT could dramatically reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries caused by accidents on our roads and highways.

CVT can enable cars, buses, trucks, trains, roads and other infrastructure to communicate with our smartphones and other devices. Cars on the highway, for example, would use short-range radio signals to communicate with each other so every vehicle on the road would be aware of where other nearby vehicles are. Drivers would receive notifications and alerts of dangerous situations, such as someone about to run a red light as they’re nearing an intersection or an oncoming car, out of sight beyond a curve, swerving into their lane to avoid an object on the road.

In this phase, THEA expects to equip approximately 300 privately owned automobiles with connected vehicle technology by late 2022. Volunteers’ automobiles will be outfitted with devices that “talk” to other connected vehicles and to roadway infrastructure to help prevent crashes. 

THEA says that volunteers can experience the benefits of connected vehicle technology in several ways. The seven new applications currently being tested and deployed in Tampa are:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Emergency electronic brake light warning
  • Intersection movement assist
  • Wrong-way entry
  • Pedestrian collision warning
  • Ramp deceleration warning
  • Red light violation warning

Because the THEA CV Pilot is a research project, drivers must meet certain criteria in order to participate. They must be 18 years of age or older, have a Florida driver’s license, and drive regularly on the Selmon Expressway or in the downtown deployment area. Prospective participants must take the online prescreening questionnaire to determine whether they are eligible. 

After confirming their eligibility, prospective participants will schedule an appointment for equipment installation and training. Qualified technicians will install the equipment into Hyundai, Kia and Toyota vehicles by appointment at the THEA CV Pilot Facility, 215 S. 78th St., Tampa, FL 33619, Honda drivers will be at Brandon Honda located at 9209 E. Adamo Dr. Tampa, FL 33619 and Acura drivers will be at Maus Acura at 11025 N. Florida Ave. Tampa, FL 33612. The equipment is free, and participating drivers will receive up to a 30 percent toll rebate for travel on the Selmon Expressway, up to a maximum of $550. The THEA CV Pilot Phase 4 will conclude in late 2022.

The THEA CV Pilot aims to demonstrate the safety, mobility, and environmental benefits of connected vehicle technology. Tampa is one of just three sites deploying the technology as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program. The other two sites are New York City and the Interstate 80 corridor in the state of Wyoming. The Tampa project is the only one that involves local residents driving their own cars.

THEA’s partners on the $21 million project include the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Florida Department of Transportation, the City of Tampa, University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research, Hillsborough Community College, HNTB Corporation, Siemens, Global-5 Communications and Brandmotion.

THEA’s press release also included a video with more information on the program. 

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Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia has written for The Nation, Investigative Reporters & Editors Journal, the USA Today Network and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 

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