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New road-embedded technology could benefit Ohio drivers

Engineers and scientists at Vaisala, a Finland company that produces environmental measurement products, recently announced the development of a sensor system for roadways that could reduce the number of car accidents each year.

More than 80 percent of male and female drivers agree that maneuvering on icy or wet road conditions presents the greatest driving difficulties. With this developing technology, the road can detect these conditions faster. More than 1.5 million car accidents each year are blamed on road conditions. Ohio drivers routinely deal with hazardous wet and icy conditions in winter months.

If this new technology can be widely employed on the nation’s highways, the sensors will create a type of warning system that reports hazardous road conditions directly from the pavement. Reporting dangerous road conditions would no longer be delayed until after inspections by highway road crews and weather reporting agencies. Knowing the point at which frost turns to black ice on a roadway and creates a dangerous driving condition, for instance, could save time and lives.

Engineers at Vaisala state that the infrared lasers would work remotely, reading the road temperatures and detecting ice, snow or water that would be reported within a micro-second and transmitted to computers that would be displayed on weather station monitors along the roadway.

The monitors could be color-coded — either green, yellow or red — to instantly alert the driver to road conditions. Although the new technology can’t prevent all car accidents from happening, knowing the road conditions of the highway under and ahead of drivers would be a successful start, according to Vaisala engineers.

Source: Ivanhoe Broadcast News, “Safe or slippery — detecting dangerous roads” Dec. 2011