Institute in the News
Sleep apnea and safe driving
American Trucker, April 17, 2019
The Truckers & Turnover Project, led by Stephen Burks, with the University of Minnesota Morris, has earned the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies 2019 Robert C. Johns Research Partnership Award for researching commercial drivers and untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In the study, the research team identified that non-adherent drivers had a preventable crash-risk five times higher than those who treated their OSA. Burks answered questions on how programs for diagnosing and treating obstructive sleep apnea correlate with preventable tractor-trailer collisions.
Prosecutors don’t plan to charge Uber in self-driving car’s fatal accident
The New York Times, March 6, 2019
Arizona prosecutors said Tuesday that they had not found evidence to charge Uber with a crime in connection with an accident in which one of its autonomous cars hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe a year ago. The crash raised questions about the safety of the technology as well as the comprehensiveness of the rules governing it. Few such federal or state rules exist. “It’s not very well trod at all,” said Frank Douma, a research scholar at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies. “To my knowledge, there is not any sort of real bright-line statement about who’s liable when.”
Autonomous vehicle may be coming to FF
The Daily Journal (Fergus Falls, MN), March 4, 2019
Frank Douma and Erin Petersen came to Fergus Falls Monday selling an idea for an idea. Representing the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, the pair gave a power point presentation before members of the Fergus Falls City Council with the not-so-succinct title "Planning for an Autonomous Vehicle Demonstration."
Report shows that pedestrian safety is a major concern on Minnesota's American Indian reservations
StarTribune, February 17, 2019
A recent study found that pedestrian safety is a critical but underrecognized issue on reservations, with residents who walk to get to their destinations at a greater risk of getting struck by a car than those living in other rural Minnesota communities. Kathy Quick, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and anthropologist Guillermo Narváez spent four years analyzing national transportation safety data and interviewing residents on four of the state’s 11 reservations — Leech Lake, Red Lake, Fond du Lac and Mille Lacs. The study was conducted for the Roadway Safety Institute, a consortium of Midwestern universities that researches issues related to traffic safety. Nationally, vehicle crashes are the leading cause of unintentional injury for Indians under the age of 44 — a rate higher than any other ethnic or racial group in the United States. In Minnesota, the state’s Department of Public Safety said it only has limited data related to pedestrian crashes on reservations, so it wasn’t able to release specific statistics on the issue. Even so, Quick said, nationally, crashes on reservations are vastly underreported.
Hyper drive: As driverless cars move closer to reality, a U of M team examines what they’ll mean for the future
University of Minnesota Foundation Legacy Magazine, February 4, 2019
In October, the U received a three-year $1.75 million Smart and Connected Communities grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the potential impact of driverless cars and trucks on communities. The U’s initiative is one of 13 nationwide to receive the award. The faculty involved in the AV project, nearly all of whom are supported by endowed chairs that give them the time and latitude to dive into such timely topics, come from the Center for Transportation Studies as well as the College of Design, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and CSE, bringing a range of perspectives. Interviewed: Tom Fisher, director of the Minnesota Design Center; Saif Benjaafar, director of the Initiative on the Sharing Economy; Frank Douma, director of the Humphrey School’s State and Local Policy Program; and Yingling Fan, a professor in the Humphrey School.
The road ahead: Driverless vehicles and the future of smart mobility
Fox-9 TV News, January 31, 2019
Researchers at the University of Minnesota want to know how people are going to interact with driverless automobiles. They have one of the most advanced simulators in the country to test how automation influences a driver’s behavior. The University recently got a couple of federal grants to study how the coming of autonomous vehicles is going to transform commutes and communities. Engineers at another U of M lab, are testing a sensor that’s being used to help guide automated car prototypes. Grad students that are on a career path to be the city planners of tomorrow are trying to figure out how communities are going to have to redesign themselves to tackle the transition to self-driving vehicles. Interviewed for the story: Nicole Morris, Director, HumanFirst Lab; Tom Fisher, Director, Minnesota Design Center; Ginny Crowson, Director of Research Administration, Center for Transportation Studies; and Max Donath, Director, Roadway Safety Institute.
Streetsies 2018: The Best and Worst Transportation News
StreetsBlogUSA, December 24, 2018
Today we kick off our annual “Streetsies” competition, that time of year when where we look back at the year and remember the stories that really had an impact on urban transportation progress. Among those cited was St. Paul for using signs (right) to help encourage people to yield to pedestrians during an experiment led by University of Minnesota researcher Nicole Morris. The signs are intended to evoke social pressure for drivers to obey yielding laws. The concept comes from the field of “human factors psychology,” which Morris is trying to use to promote safe driving behavior.
Self-driving cars? They’re closer than you think
RuralMN.org, December 7, 2018
Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, joins us this week. Frank has been tracking self-driving vehicles for years. The technology for them is out in fields right now, Frank says, and MnDOT demonstrated self-driving buses last year already. We can expect more demonstrations, including in Greater Minnesota. But what about people with jobs as drivers right now?
UMN leads project to bring awareness to pedestrian fatalities
Minnesota Daily, October 28, 2018
A pedestrian safety study at the University of Minnesota is trying to improve how often drivers stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. With 28 pedestrians killed in Minnesota so far in 2018, the HumanFIRST Laboratory within the Department of Mechanical Engineering aims to bring awareness to pedestrian injuries and fatalities through education, engineering and enforcement. Their project, which was overseen by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, will finish data collection this month on the percentage of cars that stopped when pedestrians used crosswalks. Nichole Morris, the project’s principal investigator and director of HumanFIRST Lab, is quoted.
To Get Drivers to Yield, St. Paul Uses Psych Trick
StreetsBlog USA, October 28, 2018
A ground-breaking experiment in St. Paul, Minnesota, shows a shocking pattern of dangerous and aggressive behavior towards pedestrians. But also how solvable the problem is given the right attention and policies. For most of 2018, researcher Nichole Morris, director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, has been measuring driver yielding at crosswalks around St. Paul.
U of M, St. Paul Team Up to Improve Pedestrian Safety at Crosswalks
KSTP-5 TV News, October 11, 2018
The University of Minnesota and the City of St. Paul are teaming up to try to change drivers' behaviors. The St. Paul Police Department has been working on the study at eight treated intersections since May.... Dr. Nichole Morris with the University of Minnesota said initially some of the intersections had as few as 18 percent of drivers stopping for walkers. Now the average is 75 percent.
20 Facts That Will Make You So Happy You're Not a Teen Right Now
BestLife, September 13, 2018
19. Driving for them is more dangerous than ever. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six teenagers die each day, on average, from auto accidents in the U.S. alone. In fact, University of Minnesota researcher Nichole Morris once warned, "If you're going to have an early, untimely death, the most dangerous two years of your life are between 16 and 17, and the reason for that is driving."
Alternative designs identified for rural intersection warning signs
Crossroads blog, August 20, 2018
A team of University of Minnesota human factors researchers studied the current dynamic warning sign to identify what features or layouts may be problematic and propose safe and efficient alternatives. “We directed special emphasis to the most vulnerable driver populations, such as older drivers and novice teenage drivers,” says Nichole Morris, director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory and the study’s principal investigator. The study was sponsored by MnDOT.
Driver Behavior at Saint Paul Crosswalks with Nichole Morris
streets.mn, August 15, 2018
Today I’m bringing you our 118th episode, a conversation with Dr. Nichole Morris. Dr. Morris is the director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, and is a researcher and scholar who focuses on the intersection of transportation, technology, and behavior. We sat down a few months ago in her office at the University of Minnesota campus to discuss her ongoing research project about pedestrian crossings and driver behavior and street safety in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Measuring driver’s crosswalk behavior in aim to change it
WCCO-4 TV News, August 8, 2018
According to St. Paul police, over the past five years, 835 pedestrians were struck by vehicles. Those incidents resulted in 17 fatalities and injuries to 747 people, including many children. In addition to stepped up enforcement and placing clearly marked crosswalk signage, police are turning to science. Nichole Morris directs the HumanFIRST Lab at the University of Minnesota. The lab’s researchers measure compliance at 16 crosswalks across the city. That data then gets placed on blue signs to show other drivers how many of them are obeying the law and yielding right-of-way to pedestrians. It is the principle of “social norming.”
The numbers say 'stop': A two-pronged approach to traffic safety
Minnesota Public Radio, August 6, 2018
St. Paul has posted new signs at busy intersections without stoplights to remind drivers to stop for pedestrians. According to Minnesota law, cars are required to stop at marked and unmarked crossings when pedestrians are trying to cross. The signs, developed by the HumanFIRST lab at the University of Minnesota, are a reminder of that. They show compliance rates for drivers yielding to pedestrians, comparing last month's record to that of the current month. Nichole Morris, a director at HumanFIRST lab, said that the signs were designed to draw drivers' attention, then inspire them to give pedestrians their right of way.
Signs shame drivers into stopping for pedestrians in St. Paul
StarTribune, August 6, 2018
Drivers in St. Paul need to do a better job stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, and researchers hope blue signs showing the percentage who actually stop will provide the motivation needed to improve. Last fall, University of Minnesota researchers found a woeful 31 percent of drivers citywide yielded to people on foot. Since the signs along eight heavily traveled corridors went up last month, compliance with the law that requires them to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk — marked or unmarked — has risen to about the 45 percent. One week, observations showed that 52 percent of drivers stopped, the highest so far. Nichole Morris, director of the U’s HumanFIRST Laboratory, has sent team members to 16 of St. Paul’s “high-risk” intersections twice a week this summer and had them cross the street 20 times. Team members counted the number of vehicles that stopped, passed or braked hard. The results from the week’s 640 crossings are posted on the signs as a friendly reminder for drivers to look out for the most vulnerable users of the road, she said.
Road signs in St. Paul are shaming drivers into stopping for pedestrians
Bring Me The News, July 19, 2018
You may have noticed signs like the one above appearing near crosswalks on St. Paul streets, equal parts shaming drivers for not stopping for pedestrians, and challenging them to do better. It's the work of the University of Minnesota's HumanFIRST Lab, which is working with the City of Saint Paul on the "Stop For Me" pedestrian safety campaign it started back in April. As HumanFIRST director Nichole Morris explains on Twitter, her team has been compiling the statistics by crossing 16 crosswalks in the city 20 times, twice a week.
Distracted driving, cellphones seen as factors in pedestrian deaths
Detroit Free Press, June 30, 2018
Ron Van Houten, a psychology professor at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo and RSI researcher, however, said texting or talking by themselves are not the problem. "The issue that’s new is the people actually taking their eyes off the road to do things," said Van Houten, who has done extensive study on traffic and pedestrian safety. He said distraction and speed are likely factors in the increase in pedestrian deaths. Van Houten has researched how high-visibility enforcement of traffic rules for drivers affected yielding to pedestrians in Gainesville, Florida. The study results released in 2013 and a follow-up effort released last year found that enforcement has a significant impact. The follow-up also found a "statistically significant decrease" in pedestrian crashes. Van Houten is working with the City of Ann Arbor on its efforts to boost pedestrian safety. Story also featured on KARE-11 TV News (July 11, 2018).
Ann Arbor police write 58 tickets in 2 days of crosswalk enforcement
MLive.com, June 1, 2018
Along with putting resources into police enforcement and other educational efforts, Ann Arbor is continuing a study on changing driver behavior. The city launched the study last year in collaboration with psychology professor Ron Van Houten and his research team from Western Michigan University. It began with the goal of using police enforcement, in-street messaging and communications to improve the yielding and stopping rates at crosswalks in Ann Arbor. City officials say last year's efforts resulted in significant improvements at crosswalks. At targeted enforcement sites, yielding rates went from a mean of 27 percent to 58 percent, the city reported. Van Houten also is an RSI researcher.
Fatal pedestrian crashes at 28-year high; here's one city's plan
KARE-11 TV News, May 8, 2018
Every other day a pedestrian or cyclist is struck by a vehicle in St. Paul, and every other month someone dies. Those statistics, based on averages provided by St. Paul Police, are exactly why an enforcement effort called "Stop for Me" is happening across the city right now. In what has become an annual effort, police officers are targeting different intersections this spring to identify drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians. This year, the effort is bolstered by research at the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies. The HumanFIRST Laboratory has been studying 16 different intersections across the city twice a week, and they are still finding many drivers still simply don't stop for pedestrians. "It was a little disappointing because I live in St Paul and I have a lot of pride in the city, but only about 3 in 10 cars stopped for us," said Nichole Morris, Director of the HumanFIRST Lab.
Ann Arbor putting over $100K behind new crosswalk safety campaign
MLive.com, May 7, 2018
The city announced this week a new ad about stopping for pedestrians at crosswalks is airing across southeast Michigan as Ann Arbor's study on changing driver behavior continues in May and June with a new media campaign and more targeted traffic enforcement. The city launched the study last year in collaboration with psychology professor Ron Van Houten and his research team from Western Michigan University. It began with the goal of using police enforcement, in-street messaging and communications to improve the yielding and stopping rates at crosswalks in Ann Arbor. Van Houten also is an RSI researcher.
Why should Ann Arbor drivers stop for the chicken crossing the road?
MLive.com, May 1, 2018
In Ann Arbor, the question is why should drivers stop for the person in the yellow chicken suit crossing the road? Answer: Because it's the law. The city's new ad is airing across southeast Michigan starting this week as Ann Arbor's study on changing driver behavior continues in May and June with a new media campaign and more targeted traffic enforcement at crosswalks. The city launched the study last year in collaboration with psychology professor Ron Van Houten and his research team from Western Michigan University. It began with the goal of using police enforcement, in-street messaging and communications to improve the yielding and stopping rates at crosswalks in Ann Arbor. Van Houten also is an RSI researcher.
The Drive: Drivers need a crosswalk culture change
StarTribune, April 29, 2018
An overwhelming majority of drivers apparently have missed the memo that state law requires them to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk.University of Minnesota researchers crossed St. Paul streets at “high-risk” intersections more than 1,500 times last fall as part of an ongoing study to track driver behavior at crosswalks with pedestrians present. The results were abysmal. Just 31 percent of drivers yielded to those on foot. ... Nichole Morris, director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, sent teams of researchers to eight high-risk intersections without stoplights. One researcher crossed the street while a second made note of drivers’ reactions. Morris found just 3 in 10 motorists actually stopped.
To mitigate dangers for roadway workers, Minnesota develops reporting system for work-zone intrusions
Better Roads, April 24, 2018
Research has shown that half of the deaths of roadway work-zone workers are caused by vehicles intruding into the zone. Addressing the nature of these intrusions is an important step for ensuring a safe work environment for crews. But few states have had an explicit method for systematically collecting this work-zone intrusion data. That’s why Nichole Morris of the University of Minnesota and Todd Haglin of the Minnesota Department of Transportation have led a safety-based project to complete the Work Zone Intrusion Report Interface Design. It’s an efficient, comprehensive and user-friendly reporting system for intrusions in work zones. “This work is critical to improving the safety of work zones by taking a data-driven approach to mitigate the contributing factors of intrusions,” explains Morris, the project’s principal investigator. She’s a research scholar for the University’s Center for Transportation Studies and director of the University’s HumanFIRST Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, as well as an adjunct professor.
How will driverless cars change our cities?
Minnesota Public Radio, March 20, 2018
Last week Gov. Mark Dayton created a 15-member advisory council to study how driverless cars will affect Minnesota. This technology will affect not just drivers, but also the way cities are designed, according to Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. In an age of driverless cars, he predicts, cities will become more walkable, parking lots and ramps will be replaced with residential buildings and car ownership itself could become a thing of the past. MPR host Mike Mulcahy spoke about the future of cars and cities with Douma, MnDOT Commissioner Charles Zelle and transportation consultant Mary Smith of Walker Consultants.
Editorial: Pedestrian safety. Yielding matters. So does design
Pioneer Press, February 22, 2018
From police to public works and in neighborhoods all over St. Paul, pedestrian safety is getting attention. It will increase as the year goes on, and that’s good. ... Behind the attention from city government is research funded by MnDOT and conducted by the University of Minnesota. An initial phase — begun last fall and providing baseline data from thousands of crossings at study sites around town — sheds some light on the state of pedestrian safety in St. Paul. It involved researchers — one person observing and another serving as a “stage” pedestrian — measuring yielding rates in the city. “On average, we have a sense that pedestrian yielding in St. Paul is generally pretty low,” explains Nichole Morris, a research scholar at the university’s Center for Transportation Studies.
Calculating costs, benefits of sleep apnea testing in trucking
Sleep Review, October 31, 2017
As rulemaking has been withdrawn, stakeholder conversation turns to the financial arguments surrounding the trucking industry’s incentives to voluntarily undergo systematic OSA screening, testing, and treatment.... Michael Trufant, business unit manager of industrial markets at North Carolina-based Aeroflow Healthcare, says, "Looking at the facts, we believe if a driver suffers from untreated sleep apnea, treatment can be life changing." He cites a 2016 University of Minnesota study authored by Stephen Burks that found drivers with sleep apnea have a fivefold greater risk of serious preventable crashes. "We believe that a sleep deprived driver is an unsafe driver," Trufant says.
With self-driving cars nearly a reality, Congress wonders how to regulate them
MinnPost, October 31, 2017
Congress doesn’t have a reputation for moving fast. On complex topics like health care and taxes, it can take years before lawmakers pass substantive legislation — if they pass any at all. This fall, however, Congress has moved uncharacteristically quickly to advance legislation governing new technology that is moving quickly: self-driving vehicles.... According to Frank Douma, a researcher at the University of Minnesota who studies automated vehicle issues, “the federal government always regulates the hardware, and the state regulates the driver, the human. That becomes tricky when you’re looking at the car increasingly becoming the driver.”
V2I Alerts Show Promise For Improving Work-Zone Safety
Construction Equipment, October 19, 2017
University of Minnesota researchers conducted a study to determine if Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) messages could be an effective way to get drivers to pay attention to hazards and workers in roadway work zones... “When we started this project, we saw a potential for drivers to become more aware and responsive to hazards within the work-zone by presenting the information directly to them through in-vehicle messaging technologies,” says Nichole Morris, director of the U’s HumanFIRST Laboratory, who led the project.
Sensors Are Making Cycling Safer
ASME.org, September 28, 2017
As cycling becomes a more and more popular mode of green transportation in cities such from Portland to San Francisco, it’s safe to say that comparatively vulnerable cyclists can use all the help they can get as they seek to share the roads with SUVs and 18-wheelers. A team currently working at the University of Minnesota hopes to create a much-needed warning system to protect bicycles from motor vehicles, providing a respectful and safe transportation environment. Rajesh Rajamani, a professor of mechanical engineering at the school, says just as some cars have collision-prevention systems, there isn’t a reason why there can’t be a corresponding one for bikes.
Polaris' electric GEM vehicles go driverless in Detroit
StarTribune, September 17, 2017
Two electric vehicles made by Polaris Industries that have been outfitted with autonomous-driving software and sensors are headed to Detroit, where they will roll their way along city streets for a week.... Frank Douma, a policy program director at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said every company in Silicon Valley and Detroit is salivating over the money that could be made by helping to reduce and eventually eliminate the need for bus, taxi and other city drivers.
Driverless future gets put to the test at St. Louis Park event
StarTribune, September 09, 2017
A group of Minnesotans from government, tech and academia peered into the future of our roadways Friday at a self-driving car symposium — of sorts.... A recent University of Minnesota report estimated that fully autonomous, “Level 4” cars could hit the market by 2025.... University of Minnesota researcher Frank Douma, who studies self-driving cars, was more bullish on solving the wintry problem. "Half the country gets snow," he said. "There’s not going to be a market for these vehicles if they don’t figure it out."
OT County weighs in on self-driving vehicles
Perham Focus, September 05, 2017
Self-driving vehicles are seen as the way of the future in Otter Tail County and all across the state and nation. To that end, county board members invited Max Donath, director of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Institute at the University of Minnesota, to address the county board August 22 in Ottertail at the county operations center. "Dealing with the unexpected when it comes to self-driving vehicles is the real challenge," said Donath. "For that reason, we're not there yet when it comes to widespread use of self-driving vehicles." A version of this story also was published in The Daily Journal, Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
It's not your imagination — parking is disappearing in Minneapolis
StarTribune, September 02, 2017
City officials have been holding back downtown parking construction for years. Lately they have doubled down, investing in bicycle lanes and approving new apartment buildings with few parking spaces that encourage people to find ways besides cars to get around.... Authorities on urban parking are looking further ahead, to a future with self-driving, self-parking cars, although it’s a future that is admittedly a ways off, said Frank Douma, a research scholar at the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies. "Until we get to the day of self-driving cars, we’ll probably have to provide some parking for some people," he said.
Medical groups denounce transportation agencies’ withdrawal of sleep apnea rulemaking
Safety+Health, August 30, 2017
Three medical professional groups have expressed disapproval over the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s and the Federal Railroad Administration’s Aug. 4 decision to withdraw a proposed rule on obstructive sleep apnea.... A March 2016 study from the University of Minnesota, Morris determined that drivers who do not follow their prescribed treatment for OSA are five times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers without OSA.
The Drive: Approaching a work zone? Your phone could tell you
StarTribune, August 27, 2017
Static and digital roadside signs conveying minimal information often are the only notice to warn motorists approaching a construction zone to slow down and be cautious. Drivers get so used to seeing the signs that they don’t pay attention to them and behave as if all work zones are the same, said Chen-Fu Liao, a senior systems engineer at the University of Minnesota’s Traffic Observatory. What if there were a better way to alert drivers and get their attention? This summer Liao and a research team are developing and testing the Work Zone Alert app, which would deliver messages directly to drivers in their vehicles through their smartphones or vehicle’s infotainment system.... The U’s Human First Lab found those who relied on audio from their phone had less mental workload.
A Minnesota driver's dilemma: To honk, or not to honk?
StarTribune, August 24, 2017
While “toot-toots” and “hooooonks” are part of the sound fabric of cities such as New York and Chicago, Minnesota drivers rarely sound off with their horns — even in the face of the most egregious, selfish driving maneuvers. When you’re Minnesota Nice, honking comes with internal conflict. “Honking feels hostile in Minnesota,” said researcher Nichole Morris, who studies driver behavior at the Human First Lab at the University of Minnesota. “In other places, it’s totally acceptable to honk and nobody gets too bent out of shape about it.”
‘Smokey and the Bandit’ Charm Fades as Truck Driver Hiring Lags
Bloomberg Technology, August 17, 2017
The annualized driver turnover rate at large truckload fleets was 74 percent in the first quarter and the industry was short about 48,000 drivers at the end of 2015. That shortage is expected to balloon to almost 175,000 by 2024, according to the American Trucking Associations. “Every truckload carrier is always scrambling to fill their trucks,” Stephen Burks, an economist at the University of Minnesota Morris who used to be a driver, said in an interview.
Minnesota planners begin to envision driverless future
StarTribune, July 31, 2017
Minnesota is beginning to confront what promises to be the biggest shift in urban living since cars arrived in cities a century ago: The moment drivers let go of the wheel for good. Self-driving cars are leaving the realm of science fiction and creeping into discussions about the future of transportation in the Twin Cities. Researchers say the technology could be required in new cars by 2030, leaving its mark on everything from parking ramps and road design to exurban sprawl and mobility for people with disabilities. Frank Douma (Humphrey School of Public Affairs State and Local Policy Program), Tom Fisher (Minnesota Design Center), and David Levinson (Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering) comment.
Good Question: How Do Driverless Cars Work?
WCCO-4 TV News, July 18, 2017
Several car companies, including Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, Nissan and General Motors have deployed semiautonomous car technology on the roads. This is the beginning of autonomous – or driverless – cars. Many of those cars are now being tested on closed courses and open roads by companies like Google, Uber and Tesla. Frank Douma, Director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota, says driverless cars are expected to be common by 2030. Many car manufacturers have promised them by 2021. Right now, about 35,000 people die in car accidents in the U.S. each year. Douma says 90 to 95 percent of them are caused by human error.
X Games bring global spotlight, big show, traffic to U.S. Bank Stadium
StarTribune, July 11, 2017
The X Games are the first in a series of mega-events for U.S. Bank Stadium that include the Super Bowl on Feb. 4, 2018, followed by the Final Four in 2019. This year, both ABC and ESPN will broadcast more than 18 hours from the X Games.... Minneapolis drivers will need to show some agility of their own during the games with a number of street closings near the stadium Thursday through Sunday.... Researcher Nichole Morris, who studies driver behavior at the Human First Lab at the University of Minnesota, said drivers should use wayfinding apps and consider going to a “happy place” by using a safe driving distraction such as an audiobook.
Why looking at crash stats alone doesn’t tell the whole story about pedestrian safety
Streetsblog USA, June 20, 2017
Some intersections are riskier to cross than others, but looking at the number of pedestrian injuries alone doesn’t tell the whole story. A new RSI-funded study combines crash data with pedestrian counts to deliver a more nuanced picture of traffic dangers for people on foot.
Zebra crossings coming to UMN, Minneapolis
Minnesota Daily, June 14, 2017
Late Monday night, several parallel white-striped crosswalks across the University of Minnesota campus area switched to the more visible zebra pattern. The change is part of Minneapolis’ plan to convert most existing crosswalks into thick, rectangular lines, otherwise known as zebra crosswalks.... Ron Van Houten, a researcher with the U of M Roadway Safety Institute and a professor of psychology at Western Michigan University, said some research shows zebra crosswalks can reduce crashes by 40 percent.... Greg Lindsey, also an RSI researcher and professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs who teaches urban and regional planning, said a city doesn’t arbitrarily switch to a new striping system without deliberate planning.
New U of M app warns drivers of cone zones
KARE-11 TV News, May 25, 2017
The University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies has developed an app that will pair directly with technology in construction zones. Researcher Chen-Fu Liao calls it "a Bluetooth beacon." Workers can send messages to drivers as they approach construction zones. The idea is not to look down at the app or the phone but to have it speak to drivers. ... The U of M's Human First Lab tested the app for driver distractions. Researcher Nichole Morris tracked and analyzed the eye movements and responses of 100 different drivers as they navigated several simulated construction zones.
Lawmakers Urged to Invest in Pedestrian, Bicycle Infrastructure
Public News Service, May 23, 2017
Nearly a quarter of adults in Minnesota ride their bikes at least once a week, and that number is even higher for those under 18. Seven in 10 walk daily in their community. Advocates are asking lawmakers to keep that in mind as they debate the active transportation bill. Increased funding for pedestrian and bicycle trails in the state has stalled for the past three years and Dorian Grilley of Bicycle Alliance Minnesota says a University of Minnesota study funded by the Department of Transportation found bicycle commuting in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area alone prevents 12 to 61 deaths per year because of the increased health benefits riders get.
Is there safety in numbers for bicycles in Minneapolis?
CTS Conversations, May 15, 2017
In observance of National Bike Month and Bike to Work Week 2017, Brendan Murphy of the U of M’s Accessibility Observatory shares his work on bicyclist safety in Minneapolis in this guest post.
Researchers urge caution during construction on stretch of I-94 with high crash rate
KSTP-TV, March 31, 2017
John Hourdos, director of the U of M’s Minnesota Traffic Observatory is featured.
CTS celebrates 30 years of transportation research, innovation
University of Minnesota Inquiry blog, March 29, 2017
In 1987, a new research center opened at the University of Minnesota that would begin a decades-long mission to catalyze innovation in all facets of transportation, from traffic flow and safety to pavements and bridges. This year, the Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) celebrates its 30th anniversary, capping three decades of developing new tools to help agencies across the US improve transportation systems and provide objective data to inform elected officials on matters of transportation policy.
Kids learn to be seen, be safe at Tech Fest
CTS Conversations, February 27, 2017
On Saturday, kids and their families how to “be seen and be safe” in the Roadway Safety Institute exhibit at Tech Fest, an annual event held at The Works Museum in Bloomington, Minnesota.
You are where? New study aims to pinpoint location of workers
Roads & Bridges, January 03, 2017
Growing traffic on U.S. roadways and heavy construction machinery in road work zones pose a critical safety threat to construction workers. At the University of Minnesota, Duluth, researchers are taking a new approach to preventing work-zone accidents by bringing situational awareness to the operators of construction vehicles.
U grad student designs bike sensors to stop collisions
Minnesota Daily, November 28, 2016
Dangerous collisions between cars and bikes could be a thing of the past with the help of a University of Minnesota student. At a conference hosted by the University’s Center for Transportation Studies earlier this month, a professor and graduate student presented a system to detect cars in a bicyclist’s blind spot. Mechanical engineering student Woongsun Jeon and Professor Rajesh Rajamani created a method that places sensors on the side and back of a bicycle.
Tips for driving in winter weather
KARE-11 TV News, November 22, 2016
The first snowfall of the season means adjusting our driving behavior to deal with cold, snow, and ice. HumanFIRST Lab principal researcher Nichole Morris provides tips and insight into safely driving in winter weather.
Young drivers: 'Virtual parent' encourages safer road habits, research shows
The Sydney Morning Herald, November 20, 2016
Researchers in Australia and the United States are now testing what kind of feedback will make young drivers slow down. Statistics show young drivers die at twice the rate of other drivers.... In an American study, newly-licensed teenage drivers were more likely to stop speeding when their parents received text messages dobbing them in for breaking the limit. Road safety expert Max Donath, who visited Australia last month, said most parents trusted their teenagers "much more than they should".
Speedy drivers be warned: Experts say speed cameras could curb speeding
Minnesota Daily, November 01, 2016
University of Minnesota experts are touting automated speed enforcement cameras as an effective way to curb speeding drivers — a top cause of driving fatalities in the state. But some say the cameras could face similar pushback to red light cameras which were deemed a violation to state law nine years ago. Nichole Morris, University research associate at the Center for Transportation Studies, said allowing speed cameras should be a “no-brainer” for state legislation.
Institute Teaches Transportation Concepts, Safety to Summer Campers
Tribal Transportation News, Fall 2016
In June, more than 40 White Earth Nation (Minnesota) students were introduced to a variety of transportation topics in a daylong session offered by the Roadway Safety Institute (RSI).... The Roadway Safety Institute also sponsored a day focused on safety at the second annual National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI) hosted by the Center for Transportation Studies in July on the University of Minnesota campus.
Pedestrian deaths up 60 percent so far this year, entering the most dangerous month
StarTribune, October 05, 2016
The number of pedestrians killed on state roads this year is already at 37 — up from 23 at this time last year. Plus, October, the most dangerous month for pedestrians, is just getting started. This year in St. Paul alone, there have been 117 crashes involving vehicles and pedestrians through Sept. 23, resulting in 91 injuries and three deaths. Those numbers are why St. Paul police and neighborhood groups and organizations such as MnDOT have teamed up to hold 53 crosswalk campaigns throughout the city over the past year with the goal of changing driver behavior... Authorities consulted the U of M-based Roadway Safety Institute in planning their pedestrian safety campaign.
Worsening highway traffic slows down paid express lanes
PBS NewsHour, September 12, 2016
As Americans drive more miles than ever before, express lanes are facing a challenge: they are too popular. So many drivers of all kinds are using the lanes that it is increasingly difficult for transportation officials to keep them speedy.... As tolls have climbed around the country, researchers have noticed an interesting phenomenon: Rather than deterring drivers, as they are supposed to, higher prices tend to attract them. David Levinson, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, said that when express tolls rise, many drivers take it as a sign that regular lanes are congested, rather than realizing that it means that the express lanes are especially crowded.
U of M startup named among best of 2016
CTS Conversations, September 8, 2016
Innotronics LLC, a company launched by the U of M’s Venture Center based on scientific discoveries made by RSI researcher Rajesh Rajamani, was named among the “Best University Startups 2016” in August by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer.
Move over one: Determining the effectiveness of ILCS in Minneapolis
Roads & Bridges, August 11, 2016
Minnesota’s Smart Lanes is the brand name of the active traffic management (ATM) system implemented on I-35W and I-94, the two busiest freeways in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The centerpiece of this system, and a novel idea at the time of its installation since no other U.S. city has anything similar, is the implementation of Intelligent Lane Control Signs (ILCS). Minnesota Traffic Observatory director John Hourdos explains.
Deadly crash highlights danger of left turns
St. Cloud Times, August 3, 2016
Research shows left-turning vehicles are more likely to be involved in a collision, because the vehicle must cross in front of oncoming traffic.... Experts say that while there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the hazards, such as better road design and alert drivers, turning left is just inherently more risky. "They are the most dangerous because they are direct conflicts between different movements," said John Hourdos, director of the Minnesota Traffic Observatory and an adjunct assistant civil engineering professor at the University of Minnesota.
There Are Better Ways to Kill Traffic Than Lying to Waze
Wired, July 05, 2016
The absolute best way to reduce cut-through traffic is to transform your neighborhood into a grid. Cut-through traffic “is particularly a problem in areas that try to concentrate traffic onto a few major roads, but leave only a few other routes besides main arterials connected,” says David Levinson, a civil engineer with the University of Minnesota. Streets arranged as connected grids, on the other hand, “tend to distribute traffic more evenly.”
The Drive: Do smart lanes help drivers? Sort of
StarTribune, July 03, 2016
A new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Traffic Observatory shows that drivers are heeding the messages displayed on the high-tech warning signs designed to get them to switch lanes before they reach the point where there is a stall, crash or hazard impeding traffic. But when it comes to mitigating congestion, well, that’s another story.... The signs had the intended effect on driver behavior, meaning vehicles vacated the lanes far enough in advance to minimize traffic disruption, said study coordinator John Hourdos.
2016’s Best and Worst States for Teen Drivers: Ask the Experts
WalletHub, June 21, 2016
Getting a driver’s license is considered a rite of passage in American culture. But this exciting coming-of-age has instead become a death sentence for thousands of teens each year. Motor-vehicle accidents continue to be the leading cause of death among people between the ages of 16 and 19, which also happens to be the age group with the highest risk of crashes. Nichole Morris, principal researcher in the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the Roadway Safety Institute, and research scholar with the Center for Transportation Studies at University of Minnesota, offers expert insights.
Regulating rural road use
ITS International, June 21, 2016
In Minnesota, the incidents of traffic deaths among the American Indian (AI) population is 2.5 times higher than the general population and a recent tribal road safety summit in the state highlighted the need for accurate geographical data on accident types and locations. Many incidents occur on dirt roads that are well below normal US standards of construction and maintenance. Professor Kathy Quick, of the Roadway Safety Institute at the University of Minnesota, says “much existing research is at the level of the AI population in the US as a whole. That does not give us a very good picture of what is happening in particular locations.”
Teens and cars: some advice for staying safe
Orillia Packet and Times, May 23, 2016
Nichole Morris, a researcher at the HumanFirst Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, has startling statistics that should keep parents awake. Morris says the most hazardous years of life for children are between 16 and 17 — not because of suicide, cancer or other accidents; the cause is driving. Morris acknowledges cars and roads have become safer. The trouble is young drivers make fatal mistakes that should never happen.
Klobuchar visit highlights U of M distracted driving research
CTS Conversations, May 05, 2016
CTS and the Roadway Safety Institute today hosted U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar with Minnesota high school students, safety leaders, researchers, and advocates to highlight the dangers of distracted driving. Following remarks, the group toured the University's HumanFIRST Lab, which uses the tools and methods of psychology and human factors engineering to better understand driver performance. High school students from two of the distraction-free driving clubs launched by the Dixit Foundation took turns behind the wheel of the lab's state-of-the art immersive driving simulator, which is used for researching driver distraction and impairment.
Warning to parents: You need to be involved in your teens' driving
NBC Today Show, March 21, 2016
While many experts say that too much involvement in your teenager's life can be counterproductive, statistics show that advice doesn't apply to driving. NBC's Tom Costello reports for TODAY from a driver's ed program in Potomac, Maryland. University of Minnesota researcher Nichole Morris was interviewed for the story.
University of Minnesota Morris study: Crash risk is 5X higher among truckers not adhering to sleep apnea treatment
University of Minnesota News, March 21, 2016
Truck drivers who fail to adhere to treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have a fivefold increase in the risk of serious, preventable crashes, according to a new study led by University of Minnesota Morris faculty, staff, and student researchers and supported by the Roadway Safety Institute at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. This is the largest study of sleep apnea and crash risk among commercial motor vehicle drivers to date. UMM professor Stephen Burks is leading the study.
Teenage Drivers? Be Very Afraid
New York Times, March 19, 2016
Among the people who know what they are talking about, the unanimous message to parents is: You’re not worried nearly enough. Get much more involved. Your child’s life may be in danger. What’s the topic? Teenage driving. “If you’re going to have an early, untimely death,” said Nichole Morris, a principal researcher at the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, “the most dangerous two years of your life are between 16 and 17, and the reason for that is driving.”
Crash Triggered Reforms, But We Can Do More, Experts Say
Daily Herald, October 25, 2015
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign engineering professor, and Roadway Safety Institute researcher, Rahim F. Benekohal studies problem crossings, such as one in Glenview where five vehicles were hit by trains between 2003 and 2012. He dug into the data and learned all the drivers were older than 60, with four in their 80s. With a little more research, Benekohal found several assisted living facilities near the crossing. The next steps will be outreach and possibly better signage.
LiDAR Used to Help Improve Traffic Conditions
KEYC News 12 Mankato, September 25, 2015
Researchers from the University of Minnesota are in St. Peter, Minnesota, using LiDAR technology measuring traffic flow. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, or light and radar, using lasers to determine the distance to an object. The research group is using the technology to create algorithms to measure traffic patterns. They came to St. Peter for help with their research, using the intersection of Washington and Broadway Avenues. University of Minnesota Research Fellow Brian Davis is interviewed.
Seven stories down: U building serves as a tribute to Minnesota experimentalism
MinnPost, September 16, 2015
Highlights of the underground Civil Engineering building includes the Minnesota Traffic Observatory, and how researchers there study how traffic moves through the metro area.
MnDOT to completely close stretch of 169 for a year
KARE-11 News, August 19, 2015
MnDOT recently announced that a section of Highway 169 from Bren Road to 7th Street will be completely shut down for as long as a year beginning in the fall of 2016. The closure will allow the complete re-construction of the bridge over Nine Mile Creek in Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Edina. Traffic expert John Hourdos believes it's more efficient to rebuild the bridge all together, like MnDOT plans, instead of in parts.
Strange Chevy turning heads near U of M campus; so what is it?
KSTP-5 TV News, August 06, 2015
Inside a little St. Paul garage, they're developing a big idea. You've heard of radar, but how about LiDAR? As Brian Davis, a research fellow with the Roadway Safety Institute at the University of Minnesota, explains, LiDAR is like radar but with light. It's already used for things like archeology, forestry, and geology, but Davis believes LiDAR could also be used for traffic management.
U data ups driver safety
Minnesota Daily, May 4, 2015
University research could be used to create a mobile app to reduce accidents in rural areas. Brian Davis strapped a video camera to the outside of a car last year and set off to record the painted lines and contours of Greater Minnesota’s major roads and highways. By recording this data, Davis and a group of University of Minnesota researchers developed a cheap yet efficient way to help people driving in unfavorable conditions in rural Minnesota.
Only Human, but on Wheels
ASME, April 2015
The HumanFIRST laboratory at the University of Minnesota is working on ways to prevent automobile accidents caused by cars swerving out of their lanes. This sort of accident, which often occurs on rural roads, accounts for one third of all crashes and as many as 55 percent of all traffic fatalities.
U study questions Minnesota speed laws
Minnesota Daily, March 25, 2015
The University’s Center for Transportation Studies published a report last month that found an amendment to a state law — which exempts low-level speeding tickets from being placed onto driver’s records — doesn’t produce any significant changes in travel reliability, safety or efficiency. Instead, researchers found people are unaware of how the amendment affects them, and it may increase drivers’ insurance rates.
The Drive: Why we don't have more flashing yellow arrows
Star Tribune, February 22, 2015
Flashing yellow arrows permit motorists to turn left after yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. Researchers at the University of Minnesota are developing a statistical model to help determine whether a flashing yellow arrow would be safe at a given place.
MnDOT to guide visually impaired through work zones with an app
KSTP-TV, February 18, 2015
It's tough enough for the visually impaired to get around town. Throw in some construction zones and the difficulty level goes up a notch or two. However, an app in the works by Institute researcher Chen-Fu Liao and the Minnesota Department of Transportation is working to make it a bit easier.
Driving too fast? Your cell phone will text your mom
MPR News, February 6, 2015
Parents of teenage drivers could soon have a new way to make sure their children stay safe behind the wheel. A cell phone app, developed at the University of Minnesota, monitors teens' driving habits in real time, and it alerts their parents when they break the rules of the road.
App developed at U alerts teens, parents to risky driving
Star Tribune, February 6, 2015
The Teen Driver Support System smartphone app was developed after nearly 10 years of work. The U is now exploring whether the app can be commercialized.
U Of M researchers using smartphones to keep teen drivers safe
WCCO 4 News, February 5, 2015
Crashes are the leading cause of deaths for teenagers. That's why researchers at the University of Minnesota are using smart phones to keep teens safe behind the wheel, Kylie Bears reports
Device texts parents when teens drive poorly
FOX 9 News, February 5, 2015
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have been working for 10 years to develop what's called the Teen Driver Support System (TDSS), a smartphone-based application that provides “real-time, in-vehicle feedback to teens about their risky behaviors—and reports those behaviors to parents via text message if teens don't heed the system's warnings.”
U of M Creates Smartphone App to Critique Young Drivers
KSTP 5 News, February 5, 2015
Young drivers can thank the University of Minnesota's new smartphone app called Teen Driver Support System for the chat you'll have with your parents when you get home.
Can an app make teens better drivers?
National Conference of State Legislatures, September 5, 2014
Attendees at NCSL’s Street Smart: Innovations in Traffic Safety Pre-Conference in Minneapolis heard from Janet Creaser with U of M's Roadway Safety Institute about her study of the Teen Driver Support System. The system is an application that was installed on teen drivers’ phones to increase teen driver safety.
Is V2V soon to be a reality?
KMSP TV, August 18, 2014
On Monday, federal government workers took the first step in requiring cars to include technology that will allow vehicles to communicate with one another. Researchers at the U of M are currently building a test facility along Interstate 94 for cars that will one day be equipped with the technology. U of M Minnesota Traffic Observatory's John Hourdos and Humphrey School of Public Affairs' Frank Douma offered their comments.
An app designed to lead the blind safely
StarTribune, June 29, 2014
A new smartphone application developed by RSI researcher Chen-Fu Liao at the University of Minnesota could help make it safer for pedestrians who are blind or have poor vision to navigate work zones.
New Roadway Safety Institute focuses on user-centered safety solutions for multiple modes
The new Roadway Safety Institute, a $10.4 million regional University Transportation Center established in late 2013, will conduct a range of research, education, and technology transfer initiatives related to transportation safety. Led by the University of Minnesota, the two-year consortium will develop and implement user-centered safety solutions across multiple modes. Max Donath, professor of mechanical engineering at the U of M, serves as the new Institute’s director. Here he shares his vision for the Institute.
Burks receives Faculty Distinguished Research Award
University of Minnesota Morris, March 24, 2014
Stephen Burks, associate professor of economics and management, has received the University of Minnesota, Morris Faculty Distinguished Research Award. Burks is best known in his field as the leader of the "Truckers and Turnover Project," a multi-year study in the field of behavioral personnel economics conducted in cooperation with a large motor carrier.
Signs along highways warn Minnesota motorists of 'shock-wave effect'
KSTP-5 TV News, March 18, 2014
The Minnesota Traffic Observatory says the "shock-wave effect" causes hundreds of crashes a year. The "shock-wave effect" is when a car in front of you brakes hard—and you're forced to hit your brakes. The Minnesota Traffic Observatory is testing a new shock-wave warning system, using electronic message boards with Intelligent Lane Control Signs (ILCS). MTO director John Hourdos is interviewed.
De Blasio’s vow to end traffic deaths meets reality of New York streets
New York Times, February 14, 2014
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has committed to reducing traffic deaths to zero on the city's streets, which has translated into a series of ticket blitzes against both drivers and jaywalkers. But according to Western Michigan University's Ron Van Houten, the most effective campaigns include enhanced enforcement as well as a range of other efforts.