Weather-related tweets can be analysed to bolster computer models that recommend safe driving speeds and which roads motorists should avoid during snow or rains, researchers said.

Traffic planners rely on models that analyse vehicular data from cameras and sensors, as well as weather data from nearby weather stations. However, the accuracy of this approach is limited because traffic and weather observations do not provide information on road surface conditions, the researchers said.

Twitter can help address this limitation because its users often tweet about the weather and road surface conditions, and many opt to share their location via Global Positioning System (GPS).

The study conducted by researchers at the University of Buffalo in New York examined more than 360,000 tweets in the Buffalo Niagara region from 19 days in December 2013.

The research was published in the journal Transportation Research Record.