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Fall 2014 Vol. 1, No. 3

Predicting railroad crossing crashes

Rail Crossing

Although the number of railroad crossing crashes has been steadily declining in recent decades, the result of a vehicle–train collision is often catastrophic. It’s important for highway departments to invest in safety improvements at locations where those improvements will have the greatest impact. However, the models currently used to predict where rail crashes will occur are often imprecise. At a recent Roadway Safety Institute seminar, researcher Rahim Benekohal described his project that aimed to develop a more accurate crash-prediction model for these crossings.

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Research looks for new ways to prevent wrong-way driving crashes

Do Not Enter Sign

Wrong-way driving results in more than 300 deaths each year. While the total number of U.S. highway traffic fatalities has been declining since 2004, the number of wrong-way driving fatalities has held steady. This troubling trend has led to an increased interest in countermeasures to reduce wrong-way driving and sparked new research on the subject. A Roadway Safety Institute researcher has been at the forefront of that effort as one of the country’s leading experts on wrong-way driving.

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Researcher spotlight: Ray Benekohal

Ray Benekohal

Rahim (Ray) Benekohal is a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a researcher for the Roadway Safety Institute. He is currently working on a research project with the Institute to improve safety at and analyze railroad grade crossings using predictive technologies. “The severity rates of railroad crossing accidents are much worse than highway accidents,” he says.

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Researcher spotlight: Kathy Quick

Kathy Quick

Kathy Quick, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and an RSI researcher, conducts research that focuses primarily on involving diverse stakeholders in policymaking to address complex public problems. She and a colleague recently began an Institute-funded project collaborating with tribal governments to identify issues and solutions related to motor vehicle crashes among American Indians—for which the rate of death and injury is significantly higher than for any other ethnic group in the country.

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Institute researchers highlight safety work


Several RSI researchers recently participated in events showcasing their work, including the National Conference of State Legislatures pre-conference, the Fourth International Symposium on Naturalistic Driving Research, and the USDOT’s bicycle and pedestrian safety workshop.

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Upcoming seminar: improving traffic safety with V2V communications

Don’t miss the Institute’s last seminar this year, “Improving Traffic Safety and Mobility Using DSRC-Based V2V Communication” with Professor M. Imran Hayee of the University of Minnesota–Duluth on December 4.

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