Alpine roads made safer with real time updates
An Australian-first innovation will take the gamble out of alpine driving and make the trip to the snow safer, offering customers real-time updates on when black ice is present on the state’s roads.
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said the Real Time Alpine Info Pilot had installed sensors and weather stations to identify and detect the warning signs of black icy and dangerous driving conditions.
“Knowing when to fit snow chains and when to potentially call off a trip is lifesaving information on alpine roads,” Mr Farraway said.
“More than 6,000 vehicles leave Jindabyne on a busy winter morning to make their way up to the slopes. This volume of traffic in difficult conditions, along with drivers inexperienced on alpine roads unfortunately contributes to incidents daily.
“New roadside weather stations have been installed at five locations this season, equipped with specialised sensors to monitor road surface temperatures, air temperature, precipitation and wind speed.
“We’re analysing the data gathered this year and hope to be able to predict when and where black ice will form next snow season.
“The Liberal and Nationals Government want motorists to have access to more real time information on road conditions so they reach their destination quickly and safely, which is why I recently announced the expansion of Live Traffic NSW to include traffic and hazard data on all local roads by 2024.”
Transport for NSW Deputy Secretary for Customer Strategy and Technology, Joost De Kock said the pilot leverages road monitoring tools being used overseas and emerging data network technologies.
“This project was pitched to us by our alpine innovation team, who saw an opportunity to make snow travel safer and one we’re delighted to support,” said Mr De Kock.
“Getting live alerts through signs, live traffic apps, and websites is better for drivers, and safer for our staff who currently inspect alpine roads manually.”
Data from the solar-powered weather stations is transmitted through a special low-power long range wide area network (LoRaWAN).
Member for Monaro Nichole Overall said she was incredibly pleased to learn the new network is linked to traffic counters on key roads including Kosciuszko Road, Alpine Way and Snowy Mountains Highway to provide a real time indication of parking availability at resorts and at the Skitube.
“This technology is fantastic for snow tourism giving visitors and locals the information to enjoy safer trips to the slopes. It’s also good for local industry and development- including Snowy 2.0, as it will alert heavy vehicle drivers when to fit snow chains,” Ms Overall said.
“Live updates about your trip are empowering, arming you with awareness of black ice hazards, or providing the knowledge to turn around and not travel up the mountain, due to full carparks. It puts drivers in a better position to make safe and informed decisions.”
Once the Real Time Alpine Info Pilot is complete, TfNSW will investigate other sites prone to snow and black ice, like the Great Western Highway, that could benefit from the introduction of this technology.