Promoting Vehicle Safety, Mobility, and Environmental Efficiency

Improving Weather and Road Condition Analyses and Forecasts
Schematic of the Connected Vehicles concept.
Schematic of the Connected Vehicles concept.

One in four crashes occur in adverse weather, leading to nearly 7,000 fatalities and almost 600,000 injuries every year on our nation’s roads. Weather is also the second largest cause of non recurring congestion, accounting for 25 percent of all non recurring delays. Drivers endure close to one billion lost hours due to delays caused by snow, rain, ice, wind, and fog on an annual basis. In addition, state and local agencies spend more than $2 billion per year on snow and ice removal alone!

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), with support from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation ITS Joint Program Office, is investigating improvements in the diagnosis and prediction of hazardous weather and road conditions. The Maintenance and Decision Support System (MDSS), a tool designed to support pavement snow and ice control operations, is now widely used in the United States and abroad. The Indiana State DOT reported a cost savings of over $13 million dollars in just one season’s use.  

NCAR’s latest innovation is development of the Pikalert™ Vehicle Data Translator (VDT) and the Pikalert Enhanced MDSS and Motorist and Advisory Warning System (MAW) applications. The Pikalert VDT incorporates vehicle-based measurements of the road and surrounding atmosphere with other, more traditional weather data sources, and creates road and atmospheric hazard products for a variety of users.

Decision Support

The Pikalert EMDSS represents the latest innovation in snow control. Building on years of MDSS development, the Pikalert EMDSS incorporates Connected Vehicle data into the forecast and decision process. As a result, end users can obtain information along the entire stretch of roadway, and not just at Road Weather Information System (RWIS) sites. This enables maintenance providers to better monitor and react to changing road conditions. They will be better equipped to make spot treatments on the road, improving safety, mobility, and reducing the environmental impact of de-icing chemicals.

The Pikalert MAW is a revolutionary approach to providing hyper-local, near real-time road weather information for the travelling public. Incorporating Connected Vehicle data, the MAW provides current inferences for visibility, road condition, and road precipitation. It also blends the Connected Vehicle data with a forecast engine to provide 24-hour forecasts of road weather conditions. Using the MAW, drivers will be able to plan routes in advance of their travel, including knowing which way to go and whether to delay travel. While on the road, a mobile application keeps drivers abreast of changing road weather conditions.