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Scenic beauty & road safety: Bluetooth alerts to help rental car drivers

Bluetooth technology will be used to educate rental drivers as they drive along the Christchurch to Queenstown route, in an effort to better deliver safety messages.

The voluntary trial, run by the NZ Transport Agency, was launched on July 2 to GO Rentals customers, and will feature specialised roadside transmitters that send safety messages to customers via in-car Bluetooth-capable devices.

“This innovative trial shows how intelligent technology has the potential to improve the safety and resilience of our existing transport network. If the trial is successful the initiative may continue along the route and be implemented in other parts of New Zealand,” says Transport Minister Simon Bridges.

There will be more than 70 safety and real-time messages transmitted on up to 50 devices, along the route in both directions. The messages will be delivered via audio and will remind users about road rules, road conditions, ideal rest stops and travel times to their next destination.

“The New Zealand designed transmitters are in remote locations where there is no mobile coverage. This feature, and the use of Bluetooth technology, makes the trial the first of its kind in New Zealand for in-vehicle messaging. It is exciting to see a combined Government-industry approach to solving technology challenges unique to the New Zealand roading environment,” Bridges says.

Craig Foss, Associate Transport Minister, says that the campaign does not explicitly target tourist or visiting drivers, the technology may be adopted by Visiting Driver Signature project partners if it works for their safety measure suites.

“This technology has the potential to improve safety outcomes in remote locations, which are draw-cards for many overseas visitors. If the trial is successful, a second step could be to create a mobile phone application that allows communication with the vehicle’s internal audio system, making the initiative more accessible to all road users," Foss continues.

Foss reports that the NZ Transport Agency may in future integrate the project with internal GPS systems, allowing for seamless safety measures in vehicles.

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