Toyota announced Monday that it is partnering with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and Ann Arbor Public Schools in a ongoing project aimed at increasing road safety.

The collaborative effort attempts to increase participation in Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment, a program that gathers data on a driver’s behavior on the road. The UMTRI and the UM Mobility Transformation Center plan to analyze this data to better understand how to prevent collisions. 

Participants in the study will be able to elect an Ann Arbor Public Schools Parent-Teacher Organization to benefit from their participation. Each school with at least a 10-percent participation level is eligible to receive a donation from Toyota.

Additionally, the PTOs with the highest participation will receive $5,000 for one high school, $2,500 for two middle schools and $500 for 10 elementary schools. All donations by Toyota are slated for science, technology, engineering, arts and math programs within participating schools. The final funds will be distributed in January 2017.

In a press release, Kristen Tabar, vice president of Toyota’s Technical Strategy Planning Office, said Toyota has been working with organizations in Ann Arbor for the past 35 years to support STEAM programs such as FIRST Robotics and the Toyota Motor Sales International Teacher Program.

“We see this as a perfect example of a ‘win-win’ to provide support to UM as they expand their vehicle-to-vehicle testing beyond the test track to the streets of Ann Arbor and contribute to the growing AAPS STEAM programming,” she said.

To participate, the driver must create an appointment with UMTRI to have the vehicle-awareness device installed. The vehicles with the device installed will also be able to communicate with each other.

UMTRI and the U.S. Department of Transportation began the $30-million Safety Pilot Model Deployment project in 2012, which includes about 3,000 vehicles. The AACVTE aims to eventually incorporate up to 9,000 vehicles, according to the University’s Mobility Transformation Center website.

This project is one part of the DOT’s overarching goal to increase national use of connected vehicle technology and infrastructure. According to the department, once both are fully developed they could decrease instances of unimpaired crashes by 80 percent.

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