With Storm Ciara continuing to ravage the UK with heavy snow, harsh winds and freezing temperatures, drivers have been warned they face treacherous conditions on the road, with reports of fallen trees and other debris blocking roads. This is not without good reason, as harsh weather is undeniably linked to a significant increase in the threat to the safety of road users. Between 2013-2018, the Department of Transport reported an average of 1,731 road traffic accidents per year resulting from rain, sleet, snow, or fog alone, of which almost a fifth (18 percent) were classified as either ‘serious’ or ‘fatal’.
When it comes to businesses for whom road transport is a crucial aspect of their supply chain, there is more than just an ethical obligation to minimise weather-related incidents. Persistent bad weather can cause massive disruption to transport networks, causing delays, missed Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and workforce shortages, all of which significantly impact the bottom line.
In such times, its crucial to have the tools to prevent weather-related disruption. Technological innovation has always been a driving factor in the evolution of vehicle safety, from the invention of the seat belt through to the impending arrival of the autonomous car. Here we look at some products aimed at enhancing vehicle safety, looking specifically at those that help tackle the issues of winter driving:
- The ‘virtual visor’ – at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Bosch launched of a futuristic rework of a staple feature of any vehicle. The new ‘virtual visor’ is a transparent LCD panel that uses a camera to monitor the level of driver’s eyes and then blocks any glare that could impact their vision, a particular problem during winter when the sun is lower in the sky.
- Car-to-X communication – Mercedes Benz is currently testing a solution that uses vehicle sensor technology to detect hazardous road conditions and automatically notify local authority maintenance teams about roads that need to be treated. In winter, this means road hazards such as snow or standing water can be identified and removed quickly, thanks to vehicles streaming data anonymously in near real-time
- Video as data – AI-powered dashcams are automating video analysis, automatically reviewing road footage to identify hazards and classify events by severity, relieving fleet managers of the burden of data analysis by alerting them to events that require immediate attention in near real-time