Exposing hidden dangers on city streets

September 4, 2019

We have been using big data analytics and detailed on-site observations to discover where – and why – some stretches of road are more likely to experience road safety incidents than others.

The insights come from an extensive study into how connected vehicles and advanced analytics can make travelling in cities easier and safer. They show how relatively simple improvements could help address safety issues identified at major traffic incident hot-spots across London.

“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.

Mobility experts revealed last year how “near-miss” event data, identified by indicators such as sharp braking or hazard light usage 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.

Now we have been working with leading UK-based traffic management company Traffic Watch UK to capture and analyse road-user activity from eight hot-spots. This highlighted driver behaviours and road conditions which could be contributing to an increase in safety incidents and included traffic signal jumping by drivers and cyclists, signs concealed by trees and poor road surface conditions.

“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,” said Amanda Wickens, managing director, Traffic Watch UK, which assisted with the analysis. 

We are now sharing recommendations from the research 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, and revising junction layouts.

In the future, connected vehicles and real-time analytics could mean that risks to road users’ safety – failed traffic signals, for example – could be identified and mitigated as they occur. The safety impact of roadworks, could also be better understood, with suggestions made in advance to identify and address potential hot-spots as a result of the actions.

After an extensive study in London, which collected more than 500 million data points from one million recorded miles of driving, we are now working with other cities to identify further opportunities for data-driven insights. 

“We are taking our expertise beyond vehicles and applying it to help solve broader issues in the urban transportation environment,” Sarah-Jayne Williams, director, Ford Mobility, Europe.