Influences of the road surface and geometry toward motor vehicle collisions are not easily detected. They are not restricted to the seemingly innocuous reference to “potholes” used in popular, public, news media. While the popular Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) “Worst Roads” campaign may be well-intentioned it leads to confusing the public about what is important to road motor vehicle safety.
For the past five years Gorski Consulting has been conducting road surface testing by examining how the road affects the motion of a test vehicle. The motions of the test vehicle are documented using a simple App on an iPhone. This data is then loaded into spreadsheets and posted on the Road Data page of this website.
In fact, with a few simple instructions, anyone can conduct similar testing with their own vehicle. Such activity would generate a large amount of data on the conditions of Ontario’s road. The Province of Ontario and its municipalities all conduct a variety of testing on the roads in their jurisdictions but all that data is held secret. Thus average citizens can only rely on the complaints of others, registered in subjective campaigns such as the CAA’s Worst Roads. The irony is that road surface conditions are a significant factor that lead to injury and death yet those affected by those conditions are not given even basic information that rates the safety of one road versus another. While the data collected by Gorski Consulting has some limitations it is objective. While the Road Data page contains only a small amount of the information that is collected, the public can easily contact us if they need more detailed data on any of the road segments that have been tested.
This spring Gorski Consulting has focused its attention on conducting testing along some of the expressways in southern Ontario. Testing has been completed along the follows highway segments:
-Highway 401 between Woodstock and Tilbury,
– Highway 402 between London and Strathroy,
– Highway 403 between Woodstock and Hamilton,
– and along the Lincoln Alexander and Red Hill Valley Parkway in Hamilton
The gathering of this data is time consuming because it is also accompanied by views from several video cameras that are attached to the test vehicle. Each video segment has to be “shrunk” in its detail so that all the videos can fit within a video-editting program without causing a crash of our computer. With the video segments being synchronized with the start of the iPhone App it is possible to visualize the specific point on the road where a certain disturbance was caused in the test vehicle’s motion.
It has been noticed that the surface of Highway 402 between London and Strathroy has become so deteriorated that there are significant problems (see the photo above) that could lead to a loss-of-control of a vehicle. It is not clear why the Ministry of Transportation has waited this long to deal with the problem. Not all these problem areas can be detected by the iPhone data because the wheels of the test vehicle do not always travel over the specific location of the problem. However the video documentation demonstrates where the problem areas lie and if the test vehicle has missed those targets.
It has also been observed that the Ministry of Transportation has opted to use a concrete surface in the new sections of Highway 401 that it is resurfacing between London and Tilbury. The concrete appears to provide a less-smooth feeling when driving over it. The iPhone data will provide a more objective indication of just how much more disturbance is generated in the motion of the test vehicle.
The purpose of conducting testing along the Red Hill Valley Parkway is because of the negative issues that have arisen there because of a technical report that became missing, and was subsequently found, indicating that the surface of RHVP was substandard. This has to do with the reported slipperiness of the surface and may be unrelated to the motion testing conducted by Gorski Consulting. Never-the-less, because the City of Hamilton will be re-surfacing the highway shortly, and because a class-action lawsuit has been filed against the City, it appeared relevant to conduct the motion testing so that it can be compared to the other data in the Road Data file.
Stay tuned as we hope to have some of our road data released shortly.