By MALTA ALERTED FOR MASS LATER The city of Amarillo, Texas, may soon be the first in the U.S. to allow drivers to get out of their vehicles on major freeways, and to use their smartphones to take photos of themselves on their vehicles.
The city’s Department of Transportation has begun a pilot program that will allow motorists to take pictures on their smartphones and upload them to its public safety app.
The move is being welcomed by Amarillo Mayor Mike Gallagher, who called it a “great first step in making Amarillo safer and more efficient.”
The program is being run by the Amarillo Police Department’s Traffic Management Division, which will take over driving duties when drivers get out from their vehicles, Gallagher said.
It will allow the police to provide roadside assistance and help motorists navigate the city.
The initiative comes as the city prepares to host the 2018 Super Bowl.
It is one of several initiatives the city has taken to improve its roads in the wake of the deadly November 2016 crash that killed four people in a traffic jam on I-10 in the city’s northeast.
Gallagher said the plan to allow motorists out of vehicles on the major freeway in the middle of the night will be part of a broader effort to make the city safer and better able to manage congestion on the highway.
The program will be open to anyone, Gallagher added.
The project is part of the city planning process for a $4 billion plan to upgrade Amarillo’s road network.
It was announced on Tuesday by the city council, which has yet to decide how much money to spend on the project.
The Amarillo project is a pilot that has been approved by the City Council, which also approved the $1 billion, five-year highway expansion that will also include the construction of a new highway over the border in Mexico City.
Gallager said the city is moving ahead with the plan because it will allow Amarillo to better manage congestion and improve its road safety.
The project will involve a total of $4.3 billion, including a portion of $2.2 billion earmarked for the project by the Texas Legislature, which passed a bill in December that allocates $1.2-billion in federal highway funding for highway projects in Texas.
Galligan said Amarillo is working with state officials and the federal government to coordinate with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians in the area.