Expert Report

Where the Weather Meets the Road: A Research Agenda for Improving Road Weather Services (2004)

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

Snow, rain, fog, ice and other inclement weather greatly impair road conditions and contribute to 1.5 million accidents each year. Many parallel advances in transportation and meteorology--such as in-vehicle communication systems and improved storm tracking --could be brought together into new services that help drivers and roadway managers make better decisions in adverse weather. The report recommends that the Federal Highway Administration take the lead in creating a focused, national road weather research program that brings together the transportation and meteorological communities, identifies research priorities, and implements new scientific and technological advances.

Key Messages

  • Some states and cities monitor traffic throughout their area and routinely collect data from traffic counters, video cameras, and other sensors. Often these data are used for real-time management of the transportation system but are not quality assured or archived in formats or in locations readily accessible to the research community.
  • The committee finds that there are substantial research questions and opportunities in road weather that warrant a long-term national commitment .
  • Transportation research and management are currently highly decentralized, largely implemented by states, and meteorological research and operations are spread across several federal agencies, universities, and research centers. The private sector has provided many of the targeted road weather services to date.