Technological advances are changing the way lawmakers think about car accident law and about traffic regulation. According to the New York Times, companies like Google know more about traffic patterns and driving behavior than the regulators who are put in charge of solving the city’s problems. In a city like Miami, where traffic leads to accidents and causes endless gridlock, the New York Times reports that cities are calling upon technology companies to help solve their traffic problems.
The federal Department of Transportation recently announced a partnership with the company that owns Google to provide city officials with traffic data to help them better solve problems of gridlock, traffic jams, and accidents. The hope is that with the better data, the cities will be able to find more efficient ways to move goods and people.
Part of the work will involve the anonymous analysis of billions of miles of trips logged in smartphones. The hope is that better tools will be developed to help cities understand where congestion is highest and how these problems can best be solved. Information about where commuters are going can also help city planners find better solutions to common gridlock problems. Computer models may also be able to help city planners find solutions that actually work. For instance, they can model whether a carpool lane would help alleviate congestion, or whether it makes more sense to build a new train line.