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New technology can help detect how slippery roads are

You probably heard about the massive pileup near Nashville this week that left one man dead. Poor weather conditions, including fog and black ice, likely contributed to that fatal car accident.

It's nearly the time of year when temperatures plunge and conditions such as black ice clog up the roads. About 80 percent of motorists agree that icy roads (and heavy rain) create the most difficult driving conditions.

Indeed, there are about 1.5 million accidents related to bad weather conditions every year, as well as 7,000 deaths. Now, some new technology might just help motorists become more aware of dangerous weather conditions, particularly black ice, which is practically undetectable to the naked eye.

Scientists have come up with an advanced sensor system that can measure levels of ice and snow, and then convey that information to driver via warnings.

The infrared sensors, which are embedded in the pavement, read the road's surface temperature, as well as the temperature of the ground below the road, and then transmit that information to a remote computer.

Motorists can then get a green, yellow or red warning, to know the level of danger of road conditions. It's hoped this will make drivers aware of when they need to be paying extra special attention.

What do you think? If this idea takes off, could it help prevent accidents? And if you were about to get behind the wheel and saw there was a "red" warning, would it make you drive any differently?

Source: Ivanhoe, "Safe or slippery - detecting dangerous roads," Dec. 1, 2011

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