‘Near miss’ data to aid road safety in West Midlands 

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) works with VivaCity to identify and deal with danger hotspots on road network 

A lot of road safety efforts are reactive – put up in response to accidents. In principle, this means that the more serious the accident, the more intensive the response. But what if we could use technology to be more proactive and prevent accidents from happening? That’s the idea behind an innovative new partnership being tried in the West Midlands.

cars on road during night time

Photo by Adam Jones

In what’s being described as the first road safety project of its kind in the UK, AI tech company VivaCity will upgrade 32 existing sensors across the region.  

VivaCity’s AI sensors already gather accurate, detailed and anonymous data 24/7 on transport modes, traffic flow and travel patterns. This can be used to support strategic decisions, helping to optimise the transport network and to improve urban infrastructure. 

In the new project, object speed and path data will be gathered to better understand the interactions between any two road users, estimating likelihoods of collisions. The idea is to use this data to identify particular danger areas on the road network so that TfWM can respond effectively – before anyone gets hurt. The aim is to better diagnose the root causes of collisions and recommend solutions to help prevent them in future. 

The first phase of the project will monitor the gathered near-miss data over a six to 12-month period. In the second phase, insights gleaned from this data will be used to determine future locations for upgraded sensors.  

This new project builds on the established collaboration between TfWM, VivaCity and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) on work such as the traffic monitoring project with WM5G and air quality monitoring with Vaisala. 

Andy Street, Mayor of West Midlands and Chair of the WMCA, says: ‘Our existing partnership is going a long way in future-proofing our road networks, however, with the added benefits of Near Miss technology, local authorities will be empowered to help prevent future road collisions by being aware of issues before the worst happens. 

‘Our shared mission is to innovate road traffic networks to make improvements for local people across the board. Road safety is of paramount importance so it is great to be working with VivaCity to help make this a reality.’ 

Adam Tranter, the Mayor’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, adds: ‘Road safety is a top priority and we need to use all the tools at our disposal if we are to reach Vision Zero. VivaCity’s near miss technology highlights issues which usually fly under the radar but that may need further investigation and improvement. 

‘The near-miss technology is focused on protecting vulnerable road users, pedestrians and cyclists, from harm and I’m grateful to VivaCity for continued collaboration on our shared mission to make our roads safer.’ 

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