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Road Risk Scores, Explained

We just launched road risk scores, which can help you navigate through and around treacherous roads. Many weather-related factors impact road risk. Precipitation intensity, precipitation type, wind, the risk of frost, and flooding are several factors that can cause road conditions to be worse than normal.

Note that we’re not talking about bad roads, but only weather conditions that affect roads. Now this is a bad road.

a road with many potholes
Looks like spring in New England

How Can Road Risk Information Be Used?

We see many applications for road risk analysis. Transportation companies can avoid risky roads. On-demand rideshare services can route drivers around known risks. Car-makers and suppliers can get realtime information that informs how cars react – for example, the brakes on newer cars often become more sensitive when the car detects slippery conditions. They also sensitize brakes if there is an object within a small distance from the front of the car. What if cars could get even more information about their surroundings that they can’t directly measure? As we move into the automated future, self-driving cars will benefit from as much good info as they can get to make us safer.

 

Every day my phone tells me when I’ll get to work based on traffic. What if, in addition to basing those estimates on traffic, platform providers married their own vast traffic data, with information about current and future road conditions? They could estimate the likelihood of accidents, and thus severe traffic delays, days in advance (with such estimates getting better the closer to the current time it is). You could potentially know at night that road conditions are likely to be bad in the morning, and plan a work from home day, or get up a little earlier to beat the rush.

What Do Road Risk Scores Mean?

For the road risk scores that we calculate, we give a rating from “low” to “severe.” Here’s what they mean. Our models take into account observed and forecast weather such as precipitation intensity, precipitation type, frost likelihood, visibility, and more.

Low

There’s little-to-no discernable weather-related risk right now. Skies are generally clear, and there hasn’t been precipitation lately.

Moderate

You’re probably looking at either some precipitation, like rain, or lowered visibility due to fog or mist.

Moderate-High

There’s probably a combination of precipitation, lowered visibility, and slick roads.

High

Visibility is likely to be low, precipitation is probably occurring, and roads are likely to be slippery with ice, frost, or snow.

Extreme

Visibility is probably quite bad, and precipitation is a given. Heavy snow is probable, and roads are likely to be slick. Alternatively, flooding could be present.

 

If you want more details about whether road risk is low or elevated, for now, it’s best to query the API to get more information about temperature, precipitation, wind speed, and visibility. We’re happy to consult with you about what combinations of factors cause slick roads as well.