Near-Misses and the Benefits of Being Proactive

Aerial view of vehicles crossing intersection
Photo by Michael M on Unsplash

Finding effective solutions for reducing traffic fatalities can be an immense hurdle. This is, in part, because the problem is multi-faceted. As drivers, there are methods we can adopt to increase our safety on the road - traveling at a safe speed, signalling properly - but there are also things that are out of our control, like road design or dangerous traffic congestion. One company out of Winnipeg, Manitoba has started make waves for their innovative approach to traffic fatality prevention.

Writing for Canadian Underwriter, Jason Contant profiled MicroTraffic, a startup that has found a way to utilize data on near-misses for the prevention of future accidents.

One of the things that MicroTraffic realized was that, when traffic engineers are looking for ways to address road problems, they are often utilizing crash data involving fatalities with the result of finding traffic solutions for locations where crashes have already occurred. But according to MicroTraffic, "... 75% of fatalities occur at locations where fatalities did not previously occur...". Their solution, looking at data for locations of near-misses, is all about being proactive as opposed to reactive.

The question of how they do this is impressive in itself, and is an example of a company finding ways to utilize sophisticated technologies for the collection of important data.

"MicroTraffic's analytics are based on a software tool that automatically detects and traces the path and speed of vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles. From these trajectories, the tool automatically identifies near misses - where two paths nearly collide at speeds high enough to produce a serious injury."

Using the insights gleaned from the above data, traffic engineers and governments can take preventative action by ensuring that the site of near-misses doesn't soon become the site of a traffic collision, through things like changing signal timing or adding signage, or even taking more drastic measures by changing the layout of the road in that location.

While still relatively new, MicroTraffic has already been extraordinarily successful, with 35 governments having already used their software to program road safety improvements. It's reassuring that there are companies at work who are finding new and creative ways to tackle such a widespread problem, but it is also encouraging to know that so many governments are willing to take the initiative to put bright ideas into action.

For more in MicroTraffic and near-miss data, check out the original article by Jason Contant in Canadian Underwriter.