NOAA 2007-039
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NOAA News Releases 2007
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More than 200 experts representing operations, research and user communities are participating in a collaborative symposium seeking to improve safety in surface transportation through improved weather forecasting and communications this week.

The Third National Surface Transportation Weather Symposium is hosted by the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research and the Federal Highway Administration July 25-27, 2007, in Vienna, Va. The theme for this symposium is Improving Commerce and Reducing Deaths and Injuries through Innovative, Weather-Related R&D and Applications for the Surface Transportation System.

“Our ultimate goal is to reduce weather-related deaths, injuries, damage and inefficiencies in the transportation system,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We can accomplish these improvements through developing a sound observing strategy, identifying needed research, and improving products and services. Bringing so many experts together during this symposium is vital to moving forward in all of these areas.”

Weather accounts for a significant percentage of safety impacts on the nation’s surface transportation systems. On roads, more than 24 percent of the 6,442,000 vehicle crashes each year are weather-related, with nearly 7,300 deaths and 670,000 injuries. On rail, 865 weather-related crashes occurred between 1995 and 2005, causing 8 deaths, 1,242 injuries and $189 million in property damage costs. On water, weather-related causes accounted for 11 percent of mishaps and 3.6 percent of all recreational boating mishaps between 1996 and 2000.

"Real-time traffic and weather information plays a central role in preventing crashes and eliminating gridlock on our nation's transportation network, and can give travelers and carriers instant access to life-saving and time-saving navigational tools," said Jeffrey Shane, undersecretary for transportation policy at the Department of Transportation.

Participants will prioritize research and development needs that will provide the basis for new or improved surface transportation weather products and services. These needs will be ranked according to severity and the frequency of contributing to deaths, injuries, damage and inefficiencies in the transportation system. The objective is to further improve surface transportation safety and security, quality of life, and economic productivity.

“The objective of the symposium is to bring together experts involved in surface transportation to enhance collaboration and partnerships that will improve weather products and services for those who use, operate and manage America’s surface transportation infrastructure,” said Samuel P. Williamson, federal coordinator for meteorology.

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