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Safety at Every Turn with the newly expanded Road Risk API from OpenWeather

Safety at Every Turn with the newly expanded Road Risk API from OpenWeather

Posted on 01 Feb 2024

“Safety brings first aid to the uninjured.” - F.S. Hughes

The OpenWeather Road Risk API with increased product coverage and historic data.

The OpenWeather Road Risk API is a service that offers detailed weather information and hazard alerts along your planned route has now been enhanced in two major areas:

  • Wider Coverage: Monitor road temperature and state (black ice probability) for both the US and EU, giving you a clearer picture of road conditions.

  • Deeper History: The ability to analyze data has now increased from 5 days to one year, helping to identify trends and make informed decisions more accurately.

This upgrade is available to current users at no additional cost, with no action required. 

Our Road Risk API works by taking a series of latitude and longitude points along your route and providing:

  • Current and up-to-5-day forecasts: This includes air temperature, wind, precipitation, humidity, with minute-by-minute detail for the next 2 hours and hourly detail for the rest.

  • National weather alerts: These cover potential dangers like storms, floods, or wildfires, along with their severity level.

  • Road-specific data (US and EU only): This includes road surface temperature and the risk of black ice, helping you assess driving conditions.

  • Historical data (1 year): Access past weather information for reference or planning future trips.

Essentially, Road Risk API helps you make informed decisions about travel by giving you a comprehensive picture of the weather conditions including historic, current and forecast. 

Road Safety

It has often been said that safety is no accident, so with 323.8 billion vehicle miles being traveled in 2022 in the UK alone, road safety improvements have never been so critically important. 

The very nature of safety developments have a far reaching effect going beyond the avoidance of accidents. For example, the OpenWeather Road Risk API provides weather data and national alerts both at the point of a journey’s destination as well as along the route. This information can help both reduce the risk of accidents, as well as improving the road efficiency for a host of different scenarios, from the urban cycle couriers who dart around our streets to heavy lorries traveling the length and breadth of the country. 

In the UK, the weather was associated with approximately 17% of all road accidents. During winter months, the risk of weather-related accidents increases significantly. A study by the RAC Foundation found that winter conditions are associated with a 40% increase in the number of road accidents compared to summer months. This impacts not just those involved with the accidents, however minor or severe, but also the transport infrastructure through blocked roads, the emergency and recovery services, as well as insurance companies and the overall economy. 

In this blog post, we will look into the area of road safety, and the emerging technologies that are making our road travel safer, and more incident-free.  

The Modern Seatbelt

One of the most important inventions to impact road safety was the modern three-point seatbelt, invented by Swedish engineer Nils Bohlin in 1959. Working for Volvo at the time, he designed the seatbelt to be both effective and comfortable. Although he patented the design, he decided to make it freely available to other automakers. This single decision is credited with saving millions of lives by making the technology ‘Open Source’.

Emerging Technologies in Road Safety

Technology and transport have always been closely linked. However with the ever increasing number of road journeys being completed, technology is playing a key role in reducing accidents.

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) have emerged as a key component of modern vehicles, providing drivers with real-time support and interventions to help prevent accidents. Features such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning systems, and automatic emergency braking have demonstrated remarkable effectiveness in reducing road accidents.

The development of autonomous vehicles has been seen by many to be a major step forward in road safety. While fully autonomous driving has not been introduced, developments in artificial intelligence and sensor technology are laying the foundation for a major change in road transportation. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to eliminate human error, the leading cause of road accidents, and significantly reduce the risk of collisions.

Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) are transforming road networks, enabling real-time data collection and analysis to optimize traffic flow, predict congestion patterns, and proactively address potential hazards. ITS applications, such as dynamic speed limits and adaptive traffic lights, can effectively manage traffic flow, reducing congestion and the associated risks.

Smart technologies that are being brought into road infrastructure are revolutionizing the way we manage and monitor traffic. Smart traffic lights, road sensors, and connected signage systems are becoming commonplace. The real-time data collected from these sources help governments and traffic organizations gain a deeper understanding of the specific risks and issues with accident hot-spots. 

Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) Communication is seen by many as a breakthrough in road safety, enabling vehicles to communicate with each other and with surrounding infrastructure. This technology allows for the exchange of important information, such as real-time traffic conditions, potential hazards, and even the intentions of other vehicles. This communication network improves the driver’s understanding of the road and traffic conditions, reducing the risk of accidents and improving overall road safety.

Pedestrian and cyclist safety include smart pedestrian crossings, wearable technologies, and sensor-equipped bicycles. These technologies aim to reduce accidents involving vulnerable road users by enhancing visibility and alerting both drivers and pedestrians to potential dangers.

Road safety around the world

Sweden adopted the Vision Zero initiative in 1997, setting an impressive goal of eliminating all road traffic fatalities and serious injuries. With the catchphrase of “safety at every turn”, this ambitious approach shifted the focus from managing road accidents to preventing them altogether. The Vision Zero philosophy targets safe road infrastructure, responsible driving behaviors, and effective traffic management systems.

Sweden has a long history of prioritizing road safety, adopting stringent traffic regulations and implementing comprehensive road safety programs. The country has achieved remarkable success, with the number of road fatalities per capita declining by over 78% since 1975.

Other measures include the introduction of a national speed limit of 50 km/h (30 mph) in urban areas and 70 km/h (43 mph) on rural roads, as well as zero blood alcohol limit for drivers. 

The Netherlands is renowned for its efficient and safe road infrastructure, incorporating features like bicycle lanes, roundabouts, and speed bumps to reduce traffic congestion and improve road safety. 

Japan has made significant strides in vehicle safety, implementing strict crashworthiness standards and introducing advanced safety features into its vehicles. The country's high rate of vehicle ownership and dense traffic conditions make road safety a paramount concern, and Japan's efforts have resulted in a remarkable reduction in road fatalities.

The UK has been at the forefront of road safety initiatives, introducing numerous measures to improve road conditions and driver behavior. The "Think. Drive. Survive" road safety campaign has been highly successful in raising awareness of road safety issues and promoting safer driving habits. The UK government continually invests millions of pounds each year in winter maintenance, such as gritting roads and clearing snow. Local authorities also focus on  prioritizing pedestrians and cyclists by introducing measures such as 20mph zones and protected cycle lanes.

OpenWeather and Road Safety

The commitment of OpenWeather to making weather data available to all, and pursuing the goal of creating a safer environment for road users builds on the open source ethos of Nils Bohlin. 

The Road Risk API provides weather data and national alerts for your destination and along your route. The API provides detailed weather information for each point, including air temperature, wind, precipitation, pressure, humidity, and dew point. For a part of the US territories, the API also provides road surface temperature and road state (snow, wet, black ice, etc.). Active national alerts include alert description, national agency name, and the event hazardous level.

About OpenWeather:

OpenWeather provides weather data for any location on the globe using a proprietary hyperlocal forecasting model with a resolution from 500 m to 2 km, globally. More than 6,000,000 customers from logistics, agriculture, insurance, energy, retail, and many other sectors, are working with the company's weather products. 

OpenWeather cooperates with global meteorological agencies such as MetOffice and NOAA, and enhances its model with data from radars, weather stations and satellites. The company provides great availability of service at 99.9% for enterprise-level products. 

The products can be easily integrated into complex IT systems and are ideal for ML analytic systems. OpenWeather is a member of Royal Meteorological Society and an Achilles-certified supplier. OpenWeather ethical initiatives include support of educators and students, not-for-profit subscriptions for the general public to increase weather awareness, and a recent Ukrainian donation programme.

For more information on how to gain access to our OpenWeather products, please email us.

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