Institute in the News
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.
You are where? New study aims to pinpoint location of workers
Roads & Bridges, January 3, 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.
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".
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.