Receiving annual publicity from almost all news media outlets in Ontario, the CAA’s Worst Roads campaign continues to gather subjective complaints from citizens as to what they perceive as the worst road in their area. Annually the 10 worst roads are determined based on how many complaints are received about that road. The CAA claims that they partner with the Ontario Road Builders’ Association to “verify” the list. It is not clear whether this is an improvement over the procedures of previous years as the partnership with the Ontario Road Builders’ Association has not been previously noted. Whatever the term “verification” means there is no information as to what is verified or if some legitimate method of road comparisons is followed. While those who build roads can know the specifications that they must follow they are not experts in collision reconstruction nor can they necessarily know what road conditions are less safe than others.
Drivers in Ontario deserve to have a reliable process where road quality and safety can be measured and compared. But due to the dominance of defendants such as Ontario’s municipalities and Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation, such measures have never seen the light of day. In this bazaar set of circumstances, the special interests of these defendants cause them to hide road safety problems so that they are not implicated in civil litigation.
The White Knight in this process ought to be an association such as the CAA. The CAA ought not to have any hidden agenda. Yet the efficiency with which they are able to highlight these problems is compromised by their failure to demonstrate that they have an objective methodology that is independent of subjective opinion.
At Gorski Consulting a simple methodology of road comparisons has been developed using the sensors of the iPhone and multiple video cameras. A test vehicle is driven along a road segment and the iPhone’s sensors capture the lateral and longitudinal motion of the vehicle induced by the road. Spreadsheets are generated that can identify very specific problems, such as individual potholes, or average data can describe the average motion of the test vehicle over the entire road segment. This methodology has been in existence for a number of years now and data has been uploaded to the Road Data page of the Gorski Consulting website.
It is a bazaar world that has been created when governments that, in theory, ought to be interested in reducing road safety hazards, become the catalysts for hiding those safety problems because they must protect themselves from civil litigation.