Metrology Careers Blog

Careers in measurement science.

Modern Marvels – Automobile Safety 03/08/2011

Filed under: Modern Marvels — admin @ 12:05 pm


Road traffic accidents kill more than one million people a year worldwide, injuring another thirty-eight mil040403-N-5862D-182lion (5 million of them seriously). The death toll on the world”s roadways makes driving the number one cause of death and injury for young people ages 15 to 44. Road temperature and composition can make driving challenging because surfaces become wet or covered in ice and snow thus raising the traffic accident risk.

A case study done by the Finnish Meterological Institute, used mobile measurement tools that determine temperature to measure roads before and after salting which reveals how the road slipperiness improves after the road maintenance.

The driving route as about 12 kilometers long and the same road stretch was measured three times. The first measurement drive started at 18:21 and the road was very slippery because of a thin ice layer on the surface. The second drive started at 19:11 and grip was improved significantly. The last drive was at 19:37 and the grip was still improved. Road surface temperature was quite stable during all measurement cases. This example presents how quickly the road conditions improved after salting because the ice layer melts.

Mobile measurements give valuable information about the variation of road surface temperature and road condition with very high resolution in space and time. Road condition improves quickly after road maintenance operation and should be taken into consideration every time YOU get behind the wheel.

Car manufacturers spend enormous amounts on innovations in car safety. Measuring how cars crash helps us make safer cars, saving lives and reducing injury. In stadium sized test labs cars are wired with an impressive array of sensors and sent speeding into collisions so researcher can accurately measure everything from the relation of speed and direction and occupant injury, to minimum safety standards of impact speeds and forces of motion, to interior road noise and vibration. Every component of these cars is tested relative to safety and comfort. The safest cars are noted as being able to reduce impact speed through measured innovations in crumple zones, air-bags, and occupant seat belts.


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