The Power of Weather Data and Driver Safety

car_icyWith vehicle crashes averaging more than 5.8 million incidents each year, 23 percent of which are weather-related, the case for incorporating useful weather data into connected car technologies is clear.

That 23 percent figure equates to approximately 1.3 million crashes caused by adverse road conditions including rain, sleet, ice, snow, fog, severe crosswinds, and blowing snow, sand or debris. The findings account for 6,250 deaths and 480,000 injuries in weather-related crashes annually. Read the full Road Weather Management Program report here.

What if weather data and road conditions could be incorporated into the dashboard of a connected car to give drivers advance warning of adverse road conditions? Could that lead to safer road experiences, fewer crashes, and lives saved? Meteorological scientists at Baron think so, and are putting that theory into practice.

In 2004, Baron embarked on a comprehensive road safety program in response to a National Academy of Science research study (Where the Weather Meets the Road). Their collective goal was to create an infrastructure that automatically informs motorists about hazardous atmospheric and road conditions without the need for the driver to interpret weather information.

In the decade since that first study, Baron meteorologists have perfected the delivery of real-time weather information precisely with a driver’s roadway movements.

“This goes well beyond traditional forecasting,” said Chris Carr, Director of Business Development, Baron. “We are now able to provide precise, personalized weather information to a driver, taking into account changing conditions relative to the driver’s travel time and their distance from a developing weather event. We take these millions of pieces of data, and we index them with real-time meteorological information to create a library of road surface conditions.”

That library is developed using a series of algorithms that consider all available ground and atmospheric data to inform the driver in a precise location about any roadway weather-related threats they are about to encounter.

The information is highly granulated, taking into account conditions not discernible to the naked eye (temperature variances 12 inches beneath the surface versus 2 inches above the surface, for example, and the difference in air temperature versus roadway temperature). That information is then served to a 3-D virtual grid surrounding the US in one-mile increments. The grid tracks millions of atmospheric measurements, conditions and elevations in each cell constantly. Carr went on to say “our experience in developing hydrological modeling internationally, in places like Romania, gives us the capabilities to deliver this type of information anywhere in the world.”

Baron’s advances in the use of weather data and motorist safety area already in use for many SiriusXM® Satellite Radio subscribers, through their inclusion in vehicles from manufacturers such as: Honda, Porsche, Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai.

As data distribution has opened up from one-way satellite to two-way communication through wireless service, Baron has taken its road safety program to the next level.

“Baron’s Road Safety Program and our API data infrastructure allow us to serve only the data an individual driver needs to stay informed and safe,” said Carr. “This service is generations ahead of the typical commodity weather products most other weather companies are able to offer.”

The service includes an easy-to-implement API that works with any connected device. Developed by a team of software developers, scientists, mathematicians and meteorologists, it delivers location-specific information on road conditions to enhance situational awareness and driver safety.