A solar-powered wireless traffic management system has been introduced by the US state of Indiana to improve safety and ease congestion.

The system is made up of traffic cameras, dynamic road signs and traffic detection radar and is deployed between Indianapolis and Gary on the Illinois boarder.

Images from the cameras are beamed back through the wireless network and can be accessed though the Indiana Department of Transport (INDoT) website by members of the public to plan their route.

Currently, local radio, state-wide television and cable news use the cameras from INDoT for their traffic reports and there are hopes the system may be soon available on micro-blogging website Twitter.

Indiana Department of Transport spokesman Will Wingfield said the state needed a flexible system that could be expanded as it was needed.

“People find it really hard to leave the traditional methods of transportation, especially if they are coming in from out of state,” said Wingfield.

The wireless system, designed by US-based Proxim, eliminates the need for costly roadwork to lay cables and, due to its robustness and built in redundancies, is much more reliable than a cable system.

Recently, a truck veered off the road and in a separate incident a petrol tanker caught fire with damage being caused to the system on both occasions. In both situations, the system was back online within a hour of the incident, according to Wingfield.

At the moment 150 traffic cameras are deployed on the 140-mile stretch between Indianapolis and Gary with traffic sensors positioned every tenth to half of a mile.

Safety is a major part of the new system and it is designed to help both motorists and emergency services. Emergency services utilise the system to analyse the severity of the accident, assess what problems they might face and what support systems will be needed.

Most importantly, it helps improve the emergency services response times and can help identify important road repairs, according to Wingfield.

The dynamic signs can also be altered remotely to inform motorist of changing weather of traffic conditions up ahead.

Proxim vice-president of marketing and channels Robb Henshaw said that when you factor in cabling, labour and recurring line leasing costs, the system is cheaper and comparable on performance.

The system is also environmentally sound with the sensors operating from a 12V supply, which lends itself to solar power.

Its wireless nature also means it is easier and quicker to install and expand. It simplifies installing the system in hard to reach areas where a power source maybe hard to come by and greatly reduces the work and disruption during future expansion, Henshaw said.

Running out of a central hub, the system is run by a team of in-house staff that monitors any developments on the road network.

Plans are currently underway to expand the system into other areas of the state while Proxim are currently rolling out the system across California.