Can Chatbot Technology Make California Roads Safer?

State officials look to generative AI to get a five-year surge in traffic deaths under control.

1 minute read

January 11, 2024, 10:00 AM PST

By Mary Hammon @marykhammon

Cars on road with simulated technology overlay

vachom / Adobe Stock

Traffic deaths in California have increased 22 percent since 2019, according to a study by transportation nonprofit TRIP. “We’re losing about 12 people a day,” Timothy Weisberg with the California Office of Traffic Safety told CBS News Sacramento reporter James Taylor.

In hopes of reversing that upward trend, Taylor reports that state officials want to experiment with generative AI, the same technology used in chatbots, to manage traffic and prevent vehicle crashes.

Using data from traffic sensors, weather monitors, and cameras along the state’s more than 53,000 miles of highways, AI could one day warn drivers of dangers like dense fog or a wrong-way driver. “The messages could be sent to a phone or a car's dashboard and would be similar to the state's earthquake warning system which gives people a few seconds to prepare,” writes Taylor.

It also has the potential to adjust signal lights to predict and prevent high-risk situations like traffic jams or fixed-route transportation intersection crossings.

The state is seeking proposals from the tech sector and hopes to launch demonstration projects later this year. “We want to be diligent about it," Amy Tong, secretary of California's Government Operations agency, told CBS News Sacramento. "Let's test it out, see if it works. If it works, then let's take the next step."

Monday, January 8, 2024 in CBS News Sacramento

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