SAFETY: Michigan DOT leverages plow data for better snow and ice removal

Auto-vehicle location devices gather data from other sensors to aid agency in winter storm planning

December 19, 2016
Michigan DOT leverages plow data for better snow and ice removal
Michigan DOT leverages plow data for better snow and ice removal

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is banking on connected vehicle technology to help clear snow and ice from roadways faster. GPS-based automatic vehicle location devices, which the agency began installing on its winter road maintenance equipment in 2013, report where each truck is, and gather data from other sensors to report details such as atmospheric conditions, camera images, and speed and salt application rates for each vehicle.

MDOT feeds this information, along with additional pavement and weather data and forecasts, into its maintenance decision support system, which it uses to better plan for winter storms.

“Monitoring snowplow speeds and material application helps us apply efficient salting practices,” said Melissa Howe, region support engineer for MDOT’s Maintenance Field Services Section. “Maintenance supervisors can also easily adjust shifts based on the timing of a storm so we have plows on the roads precisely when they’re needed, adding people proactively rather than reactively.”

MDOT has installed AVL/GPS on all of its plows, and some county road commissions are also using the technology. With multiple systems in use, MDOT and counties are collectively researching how to expand the deployment of this technology while coordinating and standardizing its use.

AVL and MDSS have helped MDOT reduce salt consumption, contributing to an estimated 2.2% increase in efficiency, according to MDOT. The agency spends about $30 million on salt in an average year, so even modest reductions in salt use yield significant cost savings.

Related Articles

MnDOT announces state road and bridge construction projects lined up for 2020
Image: @MnDOT via Twitter
The Minnesota DOT (MnDOT) announced yesterday that the agency will undertake 188 road and bridge projects statewide during the 2020 season to help…
April 03, 2020
Located between Atlanta and Athens in Georgia, Snellville has become one of Gwinnett County's fastest-growing cities, boasting family-friendly parks…
April 01, 2020
The Pennsylvania DOT (PennDOT) announced yesterday that 61 emergency and critical highway and bridge projects will be active statewide this week. The…
April 01, 2020
Roads & Bridges Media recently surveyed our readership to find out how the ongoing and accelerating effects of COVID-19, or coronavirus, are…
March 31, 2020
expand_less