Hundreds of motorists and highway workers are killed in work zones every year, and many more are seriously injured. At a recent RSI seminar, Professor Imran Hayee described his research on using connected-vehicle technology to improve work-zone safety. “In the work-zone environment we know that one or two lanes are typically closed, resulting in congestion and increased travel times,” Hayee said. “However, the start of the congestion is variable, and by warning drivers in advance about the exact location of congestion and providing travel time information, we can help improve safety.”
Reducing crash-related injuries and fatalities is a major focus of every law enforcement agency and countless education campaigns, but how can these efforts make the biggest impact? “Building a better map to identify crash hot spots is essential,” said William Schneider, an assistant professor at the University of Akron and RSI researcher. “Law enforcement organizations and motorist education campaigns have a set amount of money, and optimizing hot-spot mapping for these groups allows them to better manage their resources and improves both education and enforcement.”
The data collected at the scene of a crash by law enforcement officers are important for more than just drivers and their insurance companies. “Big decisions get made based on that data—million-dollar decisions,” said Nichole Morris, a research associate at the University of Minnesota’s HumanFIRST Laboratory and Roadway Safety Institute. “You have to be sure that what goes in to that [crash] report is high quality and reflects what actually happened at the scene of the crash.” To improve this data quality in Minnesota, Morris is leading a team of researchers in a project to redesign the electronic crash report interface used by law enforcement officers. She presented the work at an RSI seminar last fall.
Imran Hayee is a professor and director of graduate studies in the electrical and computer engineering department at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) and a researcher at the Roadway Safety Institute. He conducts research in the areas of communication systems, optical fiber communication, digital signal processing, and intelligent transportation systems and also oversees the Connected Vehicles Research Laboratory at UMD, where he and his team of students research and develop vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure wireless communication technology to improve driver safety and traffic mobility.
As part of its outreach and education efforts, the Roadway Safety Institute is connecting students of all ages—particularly those underrepresented in the STEM workforce—to opportunities to meet researchers, explore careers, and learn about transportation safety. The Institute recently participated in events that introduce female high school students to STEM careers and teach creative thinking to school-age kids.
The Roadway Safety Institute provided 13 graduate students from its partner institutions travel awards to attend the Transportation Research Board annual conference in Washington, DC, January 11–15. As a result, students from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, University of Minnesota Duluth, Auburn University, University of Akron, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Western Michigan University had the opportunity to present research and network with other participants from across the country.
Mark your calendar for the Roadway Safety Showcase: Safety Innovations for Today and Tomorrow, to be held May 21, 2015, in St. Paul, MN. The latest findings from researchers at the Roadway Safety Institute will be showcased, along with safety-related projects from other academic institutions. Visit the event webpage for more details.
- Institute research in spotlight at traffic safety conference
- RSI researcher appointed scholar-in-residence
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