Researcher spotlight: 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.
Benekohal conducts research in the areas of adaptive traffic signal operation and design, congested traffic networks, and work-zone traffic and safety.
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. “We are looking at what can be done before the accidents happen so we can predict potential accident locations and try to find some cause-effect relationship.”
The study focuses on utilizing new technologies to analyze patterns and past data to pinpoint an accident “hot spot” and take corrective action. The researchers also use the technology to make real-time predictions about where a crossing may be blocked and determine where to allocate resources.
The new technology allows the researchers to predict crash trends and collect data immediately, which will lead to improved efficiency and safety of transportation systems—a goal driving his work. “My motivation is really trying to get this number of fatalities and injuries and accidents down,” he says.
In addition to his research and teaching, Benekohal is the director of the Traffic Operations Lab at the University of Illinois and is director of the Illinois Traffic Engineering and Safety Conference.
Before arriving at the University of Illinois in 1987, Benekohal worked as a traffic consultant for RKA Inc. He holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in civil engineering from Ohio State University and has authored more than 120 journal articles and technical reports.