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Improving Highway Safety

As winter approaches, MTO stands prepared for the effects of inclement weather on our roads. The ministry is armed with innovative solutions such as the Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) system, a technology that was recently honored at Showcase Ontario in Toronto.

AVL is a vehicle tracking system that uses Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to keep up-to-date information on location and activity of maintenance vehicles across the province. The system was first spotlighted in Road Talk's November 2002 issue.

At Showcase Ontario, AVL won an Award of Merit in the category "Serving Ontario's Citizens Better." This category recognized Ontario public sector projects that significantly improve the service or quality of service for Ontario's citizens. Winter conditions can last up to eight months in northern regions. Therefore, it is essential that the ministry have the most comprehensive information system possible. With the wealth of data provided by AVL on the maintenance vehicles, combined with its links to COMPASS (the freeway traffic management system developed by MTO) and ARWIS (Advanced Road Weather Information System), maintenance staff can respond to highway conditions quickly.

Furthermore, AVL helps drivers by increasing highway safety. During a storm, maintenance staff can use AVL to monitor all equipment deployed and, if necessary, redirect vehicles to where they are needed most. AVL's archived data is also useful for analysis of past storm events, tracking material usage, and planning.

AVL technology continues to develop in the ministry. Data refinement and automated report generation are items to be enhanced this year. The system is also being evaluated on line-painting trucks as a measurement tool for paint usage, line thickness, and distance painted. Further linkages between the Road Patrol Diary Software and AVL are also planned. As AVL technology gets more and more advanced, it comes closer to giving its users a complete picture of maintenance activity on Ontario's highways.

The Showcase Award of Merit recognized AVL's success in making MTO's maintenance operations the most responsive possible. Using AVL shows how MTO efficiently manages Ontario's winter highway operations, thanks to the continuing efforts of field staff and support from the Maintenance Office in St. Catharine's.

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