BOONE COUNTY, Ind. – If you drive through Boone County this week, you may notice a strange looking car covered in gadgets moving slowing down county roads. It’s part of a study to make the roads safer by helping the county decide where they should have passing or no passing zones.
The vehicle is currently being driven by Eric Boggs, who drove from Ohio in the small car.
"It’s a tight squeeze," Boggs said with a laugh.
Boggs will be covering every inch of Boone County's paved roads. His company, Mastermind LLC, was hired to survey the roads. He covered about half the county last week. In total, there are more than 400 miles to cover. He has to keep his pace at about 30-35 mph for the equipment to work. Boggs said he can cover roughly 60-90 miles a day.
"I don't mind it," Boggs said about all the driving. "I love seeing the different scenery around the county. It sure beats sitting in a cubicle.”
As Boggs drives down the road, his equipment is capturing data. There's a camera on top of the car that captures a 360-degree image as well as a LIDAR camera. The car connects to anywhere from 7-13 satellites for GPS and is also powered by a solar panel on top.
“An engineer is able to take what he sees on his computer and measure anything he sees on the roadway," Boggs said of what their data can provide. “Signs, guard rails, light poles, electric poles, you name it, anything that can be a hazard for a citizen as they drive down the road.”
This project is focused on determining passing vs. no passing zones. While some Boone County roads are striped, the majority are not, something that could be seen as a safety issue.
“As I pulled some of the crash data, I realized a vast majority are people leaving the road, or lane departures,” said Craig Parks, Director of the Boone County Highway Department.
As the county repaves and resurfaces roads, Parks wants to be able to stripe those roads with center lines and other striping. However, he needs to know which areas are safe for passing and which areas aren't. The data collected by Boggs will help determine that.
"It just helps to continue to build our system of data that we have so we can be proactive and reduce the number of accidents and incidents on our roadways, rather than being reactive and waiting for something to happen,” Parks said.
Mastermind plans to finish driving the roads by the end of the week, but the striping of roads would take place over the course of several years.