“Safety is evolving,” it says on the Ford Motor Company’s website. The company touts the potential of its Safety Insights platform to help prevent motor vehicle crashes. The technology collects data from connected vehicles in real-time, enabling analysts to monitor roadways and pinpoint troublesome intersections, near-misses, hard braking events and other roadway problem areas.
Imagine how useful it would be to know before you approach a Los Angeles intersection that drivers in the past hour have been braking and driving around vehicles disabled in a crash in the intersection.
Knowing what’s happening now
“Connected vehicle data allows us to know what’s happening now,” said Meredith Nelson, analyst with the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Researchers analyzed data collected in the Detroit metro area from vehicles connected to Safety Insights from January of last year to June 2020. The data collected is massive, even though it’s only from connected Ford vehicles. The company says that it collected data from more than 500 million events last year, including events such as hard braking, hard cornering and hard acceleration.
Researchers have traditionally used police-reported accident data that is typically weeks, months or even years old. But the Safety Insights program delivers data daily – data that’s much more detailed. The detailed data not only provides information about where crashes are occurring, but where drivers apply their brakes, swerve, accelerate, etc.
One of the study participants was StreetLight Data, a transportation analytics company that specializes in pedestrian and bike safety matters.
Proactive not reactive
“The availability of data that indicates something dangerous . . . having that available everywhere . . . having enough to really start to analyze, is really just as exciting as the timeliness of the connected vehicle data,” said Laura Schewel, StreetLight CEO.
Timely crash data will hopefully enable urban planners and safety engineers to be proactive rather than purely reactive, so they can address emerging areas of concern before they become spots known for car accidents by area residents.