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Where the Weather Meets the Road: A Research Agenda for Improving Road Weather Services
multiple mechanisms for communicating road weather information to varied users in ways that support better informed decision making; and
an infostructure that takes advantage of new technologies to effectively monitor and predict road conditions and then effectively convey road weather information to end users.
Opportunities for improving understanding, capabilities, and products in these areas of a new road weather research program are discussed in the following sections. The committee believes that advances in each of these areas will be necessary to attain significant improvements in road weather services and the benefits that are expected, as a result, in safety and efficiency on the nation’s roads.
Coordinating this body of work will require a management structure that engages the multifaceted “road weather community.” This community includes FHWA, NOAA, departments of transportation in each state, an important and vigorous private sector, the academic community, and professional societies (e.g., the American Meteorological Society) and other nongovernmental organizations (e.g., the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials). One role of a national road weather research program would be to coordinate research, development, and implementation efforts undertaken by the various members of this road weather community. The recommendations in this chapter identify specific research needs that a new road weather research program should address, though in many cases the actual research, development, and implementation will fall to various members of the broader road weather community. Issues pertaining to management of a national road weather research program are addressed in Chapter 5.
A major objective of a new road weather research program should be to develop a robust, integrated observational and data management system specifically designed to meet the need for enhanced road weather research and operational capabilities. Many of the other objectives of the research program will depend on having implemented a road weather observation system, broadly defined; for example, improvements in understanding of road weather phenomena, modeling capabilities, and products and tools for end users require appropriate observations.
This road weather observation system should bring together a wide variety of existing data streams and new data as necessary to obtain a