Surface Transportation Weather

Improving Safety, Mobility and Efficiency

Hazardous weather conditions represent a major hazard to US drivers, leading to approximately:

  • 5,748,000 vehicle crashes/yr, 22% are weather-related

  • 1,258,978 weather-related crashes

  • 445,303 injuries

  • 5,897 fatalities

  • This is 22% of crashes, 19% of injuries, and 16% of fatalities. Hazardous weather is occurring <10% of the time, thus weather is contributing to crashes at a much higher rate than by chance. Source: BAH based on NHTSA data

  • 544 million vehicle hours per year delay

  • 2.2 to 3.5 billion dollars annually is cost to trucking companies by weather-related delays. Source: Mitretek Systems

Since the late 1990s, RAL has played a pivotal national role bringing the surface transportation and weather communities together to increase traffic safety, efficiency, and mobility. Our immediate goal is to continue to work with the surface transportation stakeholders in a proactive manner to implement a research agenda that addresses national and international needs for improved surface transportation weather services for the surface transportation community and the traveling public. Currently, RAL is conducting surface transportation weather research in two main areas:

  1. Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS®)

    RAL will work to accelerate the adoption of the Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS®) technology across the nation and internationally and extend this technology by developing transportation decision support systems focusing on traffic, incident, and emergency management and maintenance beyond snow and ice control.

  2. Connected Vehicle Technology – Pikalert®

    RAL aims to become the central focus for research and development for the weather component of Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) intelligent transportation system.


  • Battelle Memorial Institute
  • Colorado DOT
  • Denver International Airport (DIA)
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • ICF International
  • McFarland Management
  • Michigan Tech
  • Trihydro
  • University of Nebraska
  • University of Utah
  • University of Wyoming
  • Wyoming Department of Transportation

Representative Projects

  • Battelle Road Weather Hazard Demonstration: Integrated VDT components into Battelle’s prototype Road Weather Performance (RWPM) Tool for a multi-state demonstration during the winter of 2015/2016 that highlighted the potential for connected vehicle data to enhance and transform road weather performance measurement and management processes for State DOTs
  • Connected Vehicles: Used mobile observations to create enhanced road weather products.
  • DIA Runway Decision Support: Created a custom version of the Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS®) for Colorado specifically tuned for Denver International Airport (DIA) runway operations
  • Traffic and Weather on I-70: Used connected vehicle technology along with Pikalert® to produce forecasts of travel times along I-70, allowing end-users to make informed travel decisions on when and where to travel during weather impacts
  • Use of Vehicle Data in Numerical Weather Prediction: A dense network of weather observation data gathered by vehicles provided the means to complete the observation gap for data assimilation efforts in Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP)
  • WYDOT Connected Vehicle Pilot: Pikalert® is used in a variety of applications, including current Wyoming DOT operations, spot-weather warnings for traveling connected vehicles, parking rerouting, 72-hour forecasts of road weather conditions, and WYDOT traffic information messages. 

Surface Transportation Weather