APBS: damp sensors for road safety
In addition to being careful, there are innovative methods to improve road safety.
It is in adverse weather when there should be more awareness of the dangers at the wheel, since it increases the risk of accidents and we should be more cautious. The visibility is much poorer, there is little light even during the day, the windows fog up inside, and adherence to the wet asphalt decreases, so it takes more metres to brake.
Experience and caution as safety systems
The data collected last year by the Ponle Freno Study Centre in collaboration with AXA, show that on rainy days the probability of suffering an accident increases by 7.4%. Interestingly, it is the regions with less rainfall per year that accumulate much higher numbers of losses.
The most common type of accident is rear-ending, in other words when a vehicle is hit by the one behind it in the same lane, either due to loss of control or aquaplaning, or by leaving few metres to brake. Therefore, in addition to caution, experience is a key element to react correctly to an unforeseen event when driving on a slippery road.
"On rainy days the number of accidents increases, especially in those regions with little rainfall per year"
When we have a feeling of loss of control because the wheels fail to grip the wet road, it is vital to know how to react in time and to maintain the safety distance. What’s more, there is still no mechanical system to correct or compensate the so-called aquaplaning, which means that controlling the situation currently is the only way to avoid accidents in such cases.
Of course, you should never brake in a situation of aquaplaning, because the wheels might block when they come in contact with the asphalt and we might lose control completely. Similarly, keeping the tyres in the best possible conditions, respecting the safety distance and trying to react in time and with tranquillity are the only ways in which we can face this situation of loss of adherence of the vehicle with the road.
"In an accident caused by aquaplaning, it is important to react in time"
The good news is that we will soon have a system that will help us reduce the danger of aquaplaning. José Manuel Aguilera and Francisco Marjalizo, two young Spaniards, have developed a pilot project, recently awarded in Banco Santander’s university talent contest, Santander Explorer, called APBS: damp sensors for road safety.
Their idea came after watching a Formula 1 competition at the Abu Dhabi circuit. "It was raining so hard that they had to stop the training and remove all the cars for a trailer to dry the track," say José Manuel and Francisco. That's when they asked themselves why this function could not be incorporated in the vehicle itself. After presenting it as a project at the university, "a teacher convinced us to take it to the contest", they add.
The initiative is proposed as a system that uses existing elements in vehicles. The Air Pressure Braking System removes the water accumulated in front of the car wheel by throwing a mass of compressed air against the asphalt. This action removes excess water, improves the conditions of the asphalt (less water thickness) and reduces the braking distance by 20%.
José Manuel and Francisco’s intention after winning the Santander innovation contest is to sell their idea to car manufacturers. They have already contacted a large brand and play with the advantage that they only need items that we normally find in vehicles.
Until these young people’s idea materialises and we find the APBS system in cars, we can only be careful on rainy days and follow these basic tips, which should always be remembered.
- Adapt the speed to your situation, especially when the weather is not good.
- Keep a larger safety distance.
- Do not brake or manoeuvre sharply.
- Keep the tyres in good condition.
- Turn on the corresponding lights.
- Make sure the window demister system works.
- Check the windscreen wipers and brushes.
Rain and speed are not good travelling companions. So above all, keep calm and avoid unnecessary risks.
By Sonia Martí Gallego