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Safe or Slippery - Detecting Dangerous Roads

LOUISVILLE, Colo. (Ivanhoe Newswire) ---Men and women don’t see eye to eye when it comes to rating the driving skills of their significant others. Sixty-eight percent of men say they’re better drivers, while only 25 percent of women think they are better drivers. But in the battle of the sexes there is agreement on one thing--more than 80 percent on both sides say icy roads and pouring rain are the two most difficult weather conditions for driving. Now, new technology on the road can help detect unfavorable driving conditions faster.

From snow covered streets to black ice you can’t see 1.5 million accidents are related to bad weather conditions each year. More than 7,000 people a year die, because dangerous driving conditions pose a hazard to drivers and their passengers. Traffic cameras and weather reports help drivers and road crews know what’s going on—but now, a new warning system reports the road’s conditions straight from the pavement.

“We want to tell them what’s happening right now and also tell them what’s going to happen in the future,” Kevin Petty, Ph.D., Atmospheric scientist and Head of technology research at Vaisala told Ivanhoe.

A team of atmospheric scientists and engineers at Vaisala has created an advanced sensor system that can be embedded into the pavement.

“It can actually measure what’s on the roads surface in terms of ice, snow, frost or water,” Paul Bridge, an engineer at Weather critical operations at Vaisala told Ivanhoe.

Infrared lasers remotely read the road’s surface temperature and within a micro-second the information is transmitted to a computer.

“Here we have the lens that’s actually firing the lasers out to the road surface. The second lens is actually collecting the lasers return,” Bridge said.

In a demo, frost is turned into black ice.

“What we can see on the screen here is that the temperature is dropping and the friction is actually very low. We know this road is icy. We’re alarmed and we now know exactly how much ice is on the road. This is telling me there is 0.4 millimeters of ice,” Bridge explained.

Weather stations along the road provide temperature, precipitation, wind, speed and wind direction -- while embedded sensors measure the surface temperature of the road and the temperature of the ground below the road.

“They get a green, yellow or red type warning. ‘Do I need to pay attention to that road?’” Dr. Petty explained.

The American Meteorological Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

Click here to Go Inside This Science and View Video or contact:

Kevin Petty
Head of Technology Research

December 2011 TV Reports
Safe or Slippery? Detecting Dangerous Roads

Slip-sliding on dangerous roads comes with the season. Now new laser technology is helping determine which roads are slick and which are safe.


Tracking Traffic—GPS Of The Future

It’s an app that can tell you what time to leave for work, how long it will take to get there and when the next bus will arrive. We’ll show you a personal traffic reporter that’s right at your fingertips.


Pets, People & Practice

Diabetes, Cancer, Leukemia … all very real diseases that not only kill millions of people, but our pets as well. New research is proving the same medicine that can save Fido from deadly diseases can save us too.


Dogs Fighting Cancer

Did you know you could get the same type of cancer as dogs? You can-- and that’s why doctors and veterinarians are working closely to cure this deadly disease in both.


Earthquake! What’s Your Risk?

Could your home withstand a 7.2 quake like the one last month that devastated parts of Turkey? A new computer program can calculate your risk and if insurance would be worth the cost.


Uncovering Mysteries In Space

Scientists have discovered the largest body of water and it’s out of this world—literally! We’ll show you where it is and tell you what it means for all of us.


Deep Space Discoveries

Technology is moving faster than the speed of light! We’ll show you the next telescope that is sure to make the Hubble look like a child’s toy!


A Satellite Named Violet and a Student Named Amanda

It’s been two years in the making but now, a one-of-a-kind student built satellite is ready for launch! But what makes Violet so unique?


Hola! Hello! Ciao! Bonjour! The More Languages the Better!

Juggling two, three even four languages may help build stronger brains.


Finding Lost Sounds

Listen up! Nature’s harmonies are more important than you might think. It’s what you don’t hear anymore that could tell us about what’s happening in our world.


Behind the Scenes with the K-Team

For the first time, we take you inside the Karp Lab. It’s like no other and what happens here could change or save your life.


Spice It Up for a Healthy Heart!

For your next meal, add a little turmeric, oregano or cinnamon. A few more spices could add years to your heart.


Prior Reports
DBIS was a joint production of Ivanhoe Broadcast News and the American Institute of Physics from January 2005 - December 2011.
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