How Do Vehicle Telematics Protect Drivers from Bad Weather?

  • Aug 10, 2017

Severe weather events affect even the most experienced drivers. According to a consumer automotive report, dangerous weather conditions cause more than 1.5 million vehicular accidents each year. These aren’t all small accidents, either. These accidents result in 800,000 injuries and 7,000 fatalities annually. Not only can severe weather be dangerous, but it can also be costly. There are over 500 million hours of weather related delays on highways each year, which can be frustrating for the average driver and costly to fleet management departments.

Vehicle telematics is the sending, receiving, and storing of information via telecommunications in road vehicles. It sounds complicated, but you’re probably using telematics already. For example, satellite navigation and adaptive cruise control are both forms of vehicle telematics technology. Other forms of vehicle telematics include vehicle and trailer tracking as well as emergency warning systems.

While some forms of vehicle telematics are designed to be convenient, other technologies are designed for safety. A great thing about the variety of telematic technologies is that it enables safer and more autonomous vehicles. Emergency warning systems that include weather alerts is one of the most effective technologies that protect drivers. There are plenty of weather conditions that make driving dangerous, and real-time weather data integration in automobiles helps keep drivers safe.

4 Ways Vehicle Telematics Protect Drivers

Vehicle telematics transmitting road weather data protect drivers in many different ways.

1. Damage Avoidance 

There are plenty of weather-related risks that threaten drivers. These include risks that can damage vehicles, such as

· Hail

· Wind gusts

· Lightning

Each of these risks is unique in the way they threaten drivers and cargo, however drivers are safer from all of them if they know they are ahead. For example, if your vehicle telematics alerts you to hail ahead, you can seek cover at a gas station or garage until the storm passes to protect your vehicle. In the case of wind gusts, you can also postpone your travels or reroute to a safer area that doesn’t include bridges or other areas that enhance wind speeds.

This benefit of vehicle telematics is not only helpful to drivers but to insurance companies as well. Some insurance companies offer alerts to their policyholders so that they can avoid travel or move their cars into garages. It’s win-win because the policyholders are protected and claims are reduced.

2. Rerouting

The next way vehicle telematics can protect drivers from severe weather is through rerouting. According to Earth Networks chief meteorologist, Mark Hoekzema, traffic flow is greatly affected by the weather and the weather can change in an instant. He says knowing where rain, lightning, high winds, and other severe weather are occurring or threatening to develop can save valuable time, fuel costs, and improved safety when used for route planning and adjusting.

Many GPS technologies on the market today already use weather-related telematics to reroute drivers away from weather-related dangers or delays. For example, since bridges freeze before the road surface, your GPS may reroute you from a highway with a lot of bridges to a side road without them. Even this small of a change can have a big impact on driver safety.

3. Accident Reconstructing

Historically, data-driven evidence has been elusive in determining the causes of accidents. It has largely been opinions of people involved in the incident and studying the damage for clues as to what happened.

Accident reconstruction is new data-driven approach to investigating the causes of accidents and ultimately who is responsible for paying for the damage, with insurance carriers starting to use mobile applications that track the speed and velocity at the time of the accident. They are also incenting policyholders to install tracking devices that provide more accurate measurements of the vehicle’s speed and other diagnostics.

However, speed and vehicle-sensor measured data is only meaningful with the proper context — particularly in terms of the weather and road conditions at the time of the incident. Painting the full picture takes claim validations to a new level, leveraging data to make decisions — not opinions.

The ability to understand if a driver was struggling through heavy rain and lightning is an entirely different set of data points than just the typical driver speed and time of day/night.

4. Road Condition & Visibility Updates

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the cost of weather-related delays to the freight industry are estimated at $8.7 billion annually. With weather intelligence telematics, managers can avoid costly weather-related accidents and delays.

Some weather conditions make roadways dangerous to drivers. One of these common threats is hydroplaning. Hydroplaning often occurs during the first 10 minutes of a light rain. By driving a vehicle with weather data telematics integration, you can be prepared before a rain storm occurs. This gives you time to take preventative actions, such as slowing down, moving to an inner lane if possible, and turning off cruise control.

Another road weather condition that can be dangerous is ice. In fact, road icing kills more than twice as many people every year than tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning, and severe thunderstorms combined. To decrease your chance of a dangerous slide, drive under 45 mph and keep a safe distance between you and other cars.

Weather conditions affect more than just the road surface. Visibility is an extremely important factor while driving. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 38,700 vehicle crashes occur in fog annually. In these accidents, over 600 people are killed and more than 16,300 people are injured.

Snow storms, thunderstorms, sun glare, and fog can all greatly reduce driver visibility. Relying on road weather telematics is great when it comes to preparing for these visibility events. The most effective defensive driving techniques in these cases are to slow down as quickly as possible and drive at speeds safe for the weather.

Weather Intelligence Enhances Vehicle Telematics

With so many different driving risks associated with weather events, weather intelligence is the ultimate solution for enhancing vehicle telematics. Weather conditions often change quickly and drastically, especially when one is traveling from place to place. For these reasons and more, not just any weather intelligence will do.

The best weather telematics solution requires real-time, hyperlocal weather data. That way, drivers, fleet managers, and insurance companies can access accurate lead times for incoming weather events. This quality of data also provides reliable information for historical analyses needed for damage assessments.

To learn more about Earth Networks weather telematics possibilities, visit our weather API page.