The National Freeway Bureau yesterday said that it is soon to use data gathered through the electronic toll collection (ETC) system to help it forecast traffic on freeway sections prone to accidents and to enforce road maintenance work more efficiently.
Bureau Deputy Director-General Wu Mu-fu (吳木富) said that eTags, a device that allows drivers to pay their toll fees when driving on freeways, are now installed in more than 6 million vehicles nationwide, accounting for about 80 percent of all vehicles.
More than 14 million transactions are recorded by ETC gantries each day, he added.
Wu said that data analysis would enable the bureau to better understand the driving habits of freeway users and the types of traffic violations they commit.
“We would also look at weather information, the layout of routes and traffic reports. By combining such data, we would be able to forecast more accurately when and where traffic accidents might occur,” he said.
The National Highway Police Bureau often attributes the cause of an accident to a single factor, Wu said, adding that accidents could happen due to multiple reasons, including a vehicle’s condition, driving habits of freeway users and other external factors.
Identifying potential risk factors would help law enforcement to take preventative measures to reduce the occurrence of traffic accidents, he said.
As an example, Wu said that if certain freeway sections are found to have a high rate of collisions on rainy days, the highway police would be able to warn drivers in advance before they drive through such sections.
Police could increase patrols in such sections to lower the probability of accidents, he added.
Wu said that the ETC gantries record the number of vehicles that pass such checkpoints, as well as the time and traffic lanes cars are in, adding that data analysis would enable the bureau to assess traffic volume in each section as well as the percentage of large motor vehicles at different times of the day.
“This information would let us know the road sections that are more frequently used than others, and our road maintenance staff could begin work on road surfaces in such sections after inspection,” he said.
Drivers would also be able to upload information on freeway surfaces through the bureau’s mobile application, Wu said, adding that the bureau is considering allowing people who share information via the app a discount on toll fees.