Safe Systems Summit convenes hundreds to pave new path to safer roadways

In April 2019, CSCRS and the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program hosted the Safe Systems Summit: Redefining Transportation Safety, a two-day conference held in Durham, N.C., devoted to exploring the changing nature of traffic safety challenges. More than 340 participants gathered to share and develop a stronger understanding of the principles of Safe Systems and systems science that frame new efforts to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities.

Explore this recap page for more event details — including photos, videos and PDFs of presentations — that highlight the variety of topics and learning opportunities provided at the Summit. A special “CSCRS on the Streets” video project featured interviews about autonomous vehicles with students, children, retirees, law enforcement, college professors and others.

Calling all Safe Systems movers and shakers: If you attended the Summit, we’re excited to hear examples of how you’ve implemented or used Safe Systems in your work. Please send real-world examples and feedback to info@roadsafety.unc.edu with the subject line “Systems at work.”

Thank you to our Safe Systems Summit sponsors, whose support helped make the meeting possible:

Presenting Sponsors

Champion Level

Patron Level

Advocate Level

Supporter Level


Next CSCRS national event: NaTMEC

NaTMEC logoSave the date for NaTMEC (National Travel Monitoring Exposition and Conference) 2020, to be held June 1-4, 2020, in Raleigh, N.C. The NaTMEC call for abstracts is now open; practitioners, researchers and students are invited to submit presentation abstracts for consideration by Sept. 23, 2019. The theme of the event is Connecting Travel Monitoring to Transportation System Safety and Mobility. 

CSCRS is coordinating the planning for the event, with support from the Federal Highway Administration. Stay tuned for other updates on the NaTMEC site.


Five CSCRS research projects now complete, explore systems principles, technology and data

CSCRS researchers have completed five research projects investigating how vehicle technology, planning policies and data analytics can provide systemic solutions to pedestrian-vehicle conflicts, and examining Safe Systems principles and lessons domestically and internationally. Check out final project details and reports on individual project pages:

New products from other CSCRS projects that are almost completed have also been released:

The latest information on completed and current research can be found on the CSCRS Research Projects page. In addition, these projects, as well as other U.S. Department of Transportation University Transportation Center (UTC) sponsored projects, are listed in theTransportation Research Board’s Research in Progress (RiP) Database and Dataverse.


Education and professional development: quarterly review

In addition to the Safe Systems Summit, CSCRS has engaged students and professionals in a variety of other learning activities over the last several months:


Collaborator profile: Yanmei Li

We are excited to feature CSCRS researcher Yanmei Li in this issue’s collaborator profile. Li is an Associate Professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Florida Atlantic University. Her research interests include low income and affordable housing, neighborhood change and residential mobility, and community development. She is the principal investigator on the CSCRS project Understanding Crash Risk Exposure of Low Income Neighborhoods and Households.

Crossroads: How did you get involved in road safety research?

Li: I have been always interested in public policy interventions to help improve neighborhoods with concentrated poverty and accumulative disadvantage. Traffic crash risk research has repeatedly indicated that lower income neighborhoods or areas are associated with more traffic crashes and higher crash risks. I was very interested in knowing the “why” factor and how policies can help alleviate crash incidences in these neighborhoods, whether it is the built environment, demographic or behavioral factors.

Crossroads: Why do you believe it is important to create a new approach to researching road safety?

Li: In exploring travel behavior and crash risk studies, which were relatively new to me, I noticed that many studies used quantitative models, particularly the negative binomial regression models, to investigate exposure variables of crash risks. Many found that lower income is associated with higher crash risks; however, few have investigated why that is so. Does income play a mediating role? Because lower income also might imply lower car ownership rates, older cars which might not be as safe as newer ones, higher likelihood of using public transit and other alternative modes of transportation, or possibly, a higher likelihood of poor transportation conditions and/or road and signal design. Therefore, probing the “why” factor will be interesting and valuable to help derive policy recommendations.

Crossroads: What does a systems approach to road safety mean to you?

Li: Road safety is determined by a multiple array of factors: traffic volumes, speed limits, road and signal design and conditions, demographic and behavioral factors, and environmental factors, to name a few. The complexity of this issue, therefore, requires utilizing a systems approach. Fixing a single factor may help but may not significantly improve road safety for all who share the roads.

Crossroads: What can your discipline bring to road safety research?

Li: Social equity and environmental justice issues are embedded in transportation policies and planning, although much of the existing policies and initiatives intend to provide higher mobility and accessibility in neighborhoods and places where people may not have reliable personal vehicles for transportation. However, if it is inevitable that highways and arterial roads need to go through these neighborhoods, as well, it is essential to design a road network to safely accommodate a multi-modal transportation system. My research indicates that neighborhoods with more transit stops and a higher coverage of sidewalks are also having higher crash risks. This calls for action to design these areas better to ensure safety and safe transition among different or conflicting modes.

Crossroads:What ideas do you have for practical applications of road safety research?

Li: I think that in addition to exploring factors influencing road safety, planners and researchers should also focus more on how to use artificial intelligence to design the signals, sensors, and other safety elements. Safety education to alleviate risky behaviors is also critical. Equitable capital improvement investment should be ensured so that disadvantaged neighborhoods and areas will receive the same safety improvement as in other areas, without compromising mobility and accessibility.

Crossroads: Where would you like to see the field of transportation safety in five years?

Li: Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are advancing drastically, and auto-pilot and autonomous vehicles may help improve road safety in the future. Studies of road safety under the context of advanced technologies may help create an efficient transportation system that is safe and equitable, with mixed vehicles and mixed modes. However, focusing more on safety in alternative transportation modes should always be a priority, since pedestrians and bikers (including transit users switching between modes) tend to be in a more vulnerable situation, compared to automobile drivers. If pedestrians or bikers are involved in a collision with automobiles, they are usually much more likely to be severely injured or killed.

Crossroads: What’s the most rewarding thing that’s happened during your research career?

Li: The most rewarding thing is to see that social equity and environmental justice issues have been recognized and addressed by planners and public policy makers, and my mortgage foreclosure research in the previous years has helped stimulate strong interests in scholars to explore the persistent issue of accumulative disadvantage associated with lower income minority neighborhoods.

Crossroads: What advice would you give to up-and-coming researchers in your field?

Li: My advice is that in addition to analyzing big data, set the feet in local communities to see what is happening, why it is happening, which areas need more policy intervention, and how we recommend policies to help solve any problems and prevent problems from happening in the future. Planning and caring for people, especially those who are less fortunate, will help create a more resilient, equitable and sustainable community.


CSCRS highlights

A quick rundown of additional recent and upcoming CSCRS activities and recognitions:

  • CSCRS has been featured as a spotlight on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration Safety Culture and the Zero Deaths Vision page.
  • The Bird e-Scooter company released a safety report in April 2019 that cited the CSCRS website as a source related to Safe Systems.
  • Researcher Seth LaJeunesse visited Capitol Hill in May 2019 to discuss CSCRS’s Safe Systems work with U.S. Senate staffers.
  • CSCRS Director Laura Sandt and Education & Outreach Programs Manager Caroline Mozingo attended the Council of University Transportation Centers Summer Meeting hosted by the Southern Plains Transportation Center in Norman, Okla., in June 2019. (Meeting presentations are available online.)
  • The Transportation Research Board Executive Committee named HSRC’s Wes Kumfer and Libby Thomas as this year’s winners of the Patricia F. Waller Award for their paper “Midblock Pedestrian Crash Predictions in a Systemic, Risk-Based Pedestrian Safety Process.” This award is given each year for the best paper in the area of safety and system users. (Laura Sandt and HSRC researcher Bo Lan were co-authors.)
  • CSCRS Associate Director Noreen McDonald, UNC Department of City and Regional Planning, was recently appointed to the Council of University Transportation Center’s Executive Committee.

Safe systems and road safety news beyond CSCRS


CSCRS bookshelf

“Faster, Smarter, Greener: The Future of the Car and Urban Mobility,” Venkat Sumantran, Charles Fine and David Gonsalvez (2017), MIT Press

By Mojdeh Azad

Mojdeh Azad is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Transportation Engineering & Science Program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Venkat Sumantran and his co-authors, Charles Fine and David Gonsalvez, described the evolution of technology and changes related to the mobility industry in their book “Faster, Smarter, Greener: The Future of the Car and Urban Mobility.” In their view, “the future of mobility will be Connected, Heterogeneous, Intelligent, and Personalized (CHIP).” The authors walk readers through the process of the CHIP framework development by first discussing the current changes in mobility and urbanization and why the architecture of future mobility should be different than the existing situation. In the second part, they highlight the innovative responses that contribute to finding solutions to the mobility challenges, such as autonomous vehicles, sustainable mobility and innovative business models which form the building blocks of CHIP mobility architecture. In the last part, the authors develop the CHIP mobility framework and discuss the strategies to facilitate its implementation by identifying the roles of key stakeholders.

I found this book, written by the authors who are associated with both industry and academia, a valuable source of information that connects technological advances, economic activities and sustainable mobility solutions and transportation management strategies to envision a better mobility system and readers from various disciplines might find of interest.


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