People are always on the road, and millions share these spaces every day worldwide. Commuters spend most of their time traversing highways and minor roadways to get to work, school, or the nearest establishment for usual errands. A 2019 study done by OnePoll and Cooper Tire found that the average American spends 18 days behind the wheel
per year. This is equivalent to an average of eight hours and 22 minutes of driving per week.
Due to the vast amount of time commuters spend on the road, accidents have become one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Around 1.35 million people
globally succumb to fatal crashes each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This made crash injuries the eighth leading cause of fatalities globally across all age groups.
Aside from their fatal consequences, road accidents also have a long-lasting impact on the global economy. The CDC estimates that the world economy could lose $1.8 trillion every year due to fatal and non-fatal road injuries by 2030.
Such an extensive economic burden and a major threat to human lives prompted governments and private sectors to improve road safety in their respective territories. In the United States alone, investments in highway and road projects are projected to reach $103 billion by 2022, with greater emphasis on modern road technology.
Such an initiative also paved the way for engineering experts to conduct cutting-edge research and come up with advanced road safety solutions to limit highway accidents across the globe. Here are some of them.
Scientists have discovered that incorporating nanoclays in asphalt pavement could provide more stability and durability to the structure. On top of this, the use of nanomaterials in construction may significantly reduce fuel consumption, carbon dioxide emission, as well as long-term maintenance costs.
Modern road markings
New developments in paint technologies have transformed road marking. Several paints now boast of their glow-in-the-dark feature, making driving at night a lot safer. Other paints have anti-slip properties, which can be extremely beneficial when driving along wet roads. Thermoplastic road marking paints
are another breakthrough, making markings susceptible to breakage or peeling off amidst extreme driving conditions.
Interactive, wind-powered lights on the road
Over the years, experts have focused on developing energy-efficient technologies that can also help improve road safety among motorists. Interactive wind-powered lights are one of them. These lights only turn on when a car passes by. Wind drafts coming from passing cars generate electricity to power up these lights and remain lit as cars drive through.
Experts in the United States are currently developing solar energy
roads. This project aims to install solar panels on glass roadways as a new means of power generation. Despite its fragility, experts say that the glass surface can be engineered to allow speeding cars to stop safely. On top of this, glass is a renewable yet durable material, limiting carbon dioxide emissions and frequent maintenance expenses. The solar panel roadways can also melt snow during winter. Meanwhile, solar energy can serve as another power source, especially for future electric cars.
Engineering experts are continuously exploring the possibilities of creating an intelligent networked road system. The project aims to establish several “road listening stations” across major highways linked to GPS receivers in cars to monitor traffic patterns and accident occurrence. This can help drivers find an alternative, faster route while avoiding disruptions along the road. Certain driving apps like Waze possess such a feature.
Accidents are a global pandemic. They happen every day mostly without warning, threatening innocent lives, and even economic resources. However, these modern-day road technologies might be the solution to this rapidly growing outbreak.