Ford Mobility in Europe has been employing connected vehicles (CVs) and big data analytics combined with detailed on-site observations to discover where and why some stretches of London’s road network are more likely to experience road safety incidents than others.
The insights come from the latest part of an extensive two-year study into how CVs and advanced analytics can help make travelling in cities easier and safer. They show how relatively simple improvements to roads and junctions could help address safety issues identified at major traffic incident hot-spots across London. Mobility experts from Ford’s City Insights (formerly City Data Solutions) team revealed last year how ‘near-miss’ event data, identified by indicators such as sharp braking or hazard light usage, collected from a year-long study of CVs across London could, when correlated with historical accident data, be used to identify which stretches of road were most likely to experience a road safety incident in the future. These ‘hidden’ road safety hot-spots may not have been identified by actual accident data until an incident occurs.
To further prove the concept and better understand why certain stretches of road were experiencing a proportionally higher number of safety incidents, Ford has been working with traffic management company Traffic Watch UK to capture and analyze road-user activity from eight of the highest-ranking safety hot-spots. From this they were able to identify driver behaviors and road conditions that could be contributing to an increase in safety incidents at those locations. These included:
- Traffic signal jumping by drivers and cyclists;
- Illegible road signs due to overgrown trees or incorrect orientation;
- Poor road surface conditions, including sunken service covers;
- Narrow lanes creating conflict between road users.
Ford is now in the process of sharing recommendations from the research, which could help address the road safety concerns at each of the incident hot-spots, with the relevant local authorities. Suggestions include:
- The introduction of red-light cameras to deter signal jumping;
- Cutting back vegetation to ensure road signage is clearly visible;
- Double-height signage and signals;
- Resurfacing carriageways and raising service covers;
- Revising junction layout to allow for appropriate lane widths.
After an extensive study in London, which collected more than 500 million data points from one million recorded miles of driving, Ford’s City Insights team is now working with Valencia (Spain) and Cologne (Germany) to expand its understanding of different city types, incorporating further technologies.
“Using data to identify where safety incidents are most likely to occur is one thing; proving the concept works is another,” said Jon Scott, project lead at Ford City Insights. “We have now taken the innovative predictive road safety concept we introduced last year one step further by engaging with civil engineering experts to better understand the reasons behind safety incidents at these locations and make suggestions on how to address them.”
Amanda Wickens, managing director of Traffic Watch UK, said, “It is probably no coincidence that where Ford’s analysis identified harsh braking and steering, we also found evidence of traffic light offences and obscured road signs. Without a doubt, there is a real opportunity for intelligent connected technology and vehicle data analysis to help reduce the occurrence of road incidents in the future.”