You’re invited to Safety Sunday @ TRB

Going to the Transportation Research Board 99th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC? Please join CSCRS for the third annual Safety Sunday @TRB reception, Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, 5 – 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. This event will bring together diverse entities to network and discuss critical themes in transportation safety research and practice. The reception will be held in the Marquis Salon 1&2 (M2) at the Marriott Marquis Washington, DC—this invite provides additional details:

Here is a recap of last year’s Safety Sunday @ TRB. Also, while at TRB, do want to know where to learn about integrating safe systems principles into road safety? This list shows all CSCRS TRB sessions including workshops, lectern sessions, posters and more.

2019 CSCRS Student of the Year, Mary Wolfe

Mary Wolfe, CSCRS student of the year

Mary Wolfe

CSCRS is proud to announce Mary Wolfe, a doctoral student in the City and Regional Planning program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as its 2019 Outstanding Student of the Year. Wolfe will be recognized on Saturday, Jan. 11, at the Council of University Transportation Center’s 2020 Awards Banquet, held in conjunction with the TRB Annual Meeting.

“I’m really honored to be recognized as student of the year,” said Wolfe. “CSCRS supports exactly the kind of work that I have pursued as a doctoral student and an investigative approach that I think is crucial to the future of transportation research: it’s about illuminating the importance and intersectionality of transportation in pursuit of individual and community wellbeing—however we may measure it—across contexts and disciplines.” Learn more about Mary.

CSCRS launches 12 new transportation safety research projects

CSCRS recently launched 12 new research projects to explore a range of transportation safety topics including micromobility, urban freight, pedestrian/bicyclist injury data, shaping public discourse around road safety and integrating the features of a safe roadway system. This is the third round of research projects selected by CSCRS, bringing the total number of CSCRS funded research projects to 33.

The 12 new CSCRS research projects include:

CSCRS posts all project materials, including final reports, slide decks and more, on its research projects page.

Don’t miss early bird discount for NaTMEC 2020 registration

Early bird registration is open for the National Travel Monitoring Exposition and Conference (NaTMEC) 2020, June 1-4, to be held at the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, NC. NaTMEC provides travel monitoring professionals and transportation data users from around the world opportunities to share knowledge and good practices, exchange ideas, revisit fundamental concepts, learn new processes, procedures and techniques and see the latest advancements in policy, technology and equipment.

Rates for early registration until Feb. 17, 2020, are as follows:

  • General: $550
  • Speaker: $500
  • Student: $75
  • One day: $275
  • Exhibitor (additional): $550

The NaTMEC 2020 program is being finalized and will be posted on the website soon. Information on travel and accommodations is available.

Exhibiting and sponsorship opportunities are available; learn more on the NaTMEC website or contact Jennifer Palcher-Silliman ( directly for more information.

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

Systems spotlight: CSCRS publishes article on integrating systems science into road safety

CSCRS researchers recently published the article “Integrating complex systems science into road safety research and practice, Part 2: applying systems tools to the problem of increasing pedestrian death rates” in the journal Injury Prevention. The piece was co-authored by UNC researchers Becky Naumann, Jill Kuhlberg, Laura Sandt, Stephen Heiny, Wes Kumfer, Steve Marshall and Kristen Hassmiller Lich. The article aims to provide a specific example of how systems dynamics tools can increase understanding of stakeholder “mental models” and generate robust systems-based hypotheses about the escalating problem of rising pedestrian death rates in the U.S.

Education and professional development: Quarterly review

CSCRS has engaged students and professionals in a variety of other learning activities over the last several months:

Collaborator profile: Chris Cherry

We are excited to feature CSCRS researcher Chris Cherry in this issue’s collaborator profile. Cherry is an Associate Department Head of Undergraduate Studies and Professor at UTK. His research interests include bicycle and pedestrian safety and system design, the role of e-bikes on the transportation system, multimodal transportation planning and economics, travel behavior and demand, sustainable transportation and transit security. He is the principal investigator on four CSCRS projects including those exploring data needs, micromobility and linking opioids with traffic safety data.

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

Cherry: I became involved in safety research initially as a graduate student, but more earnestly as a professor who became passionate about the persistent toll that poorly designed infrastructure and policies inflict on the population. In my classes, I found myself gravitating toward safety in almost every lecture, though I’ve never taught an explicit safety course. It seems that safety analysis has predominantly been an effort that is applied after planning, after design. The thinking goes, now that we’ve planned our growth and baked in inherently unsafe mobility patterns, how do we make it safe(r). We have a moral and ethical imperative to design systems in a way that prioritizes safety as a value, not an afterthought. Focusing on research that brings safety analysis to the forefront of policy does that.

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

Cherry: Obviously what we’re doing does not work. It’s unacceptable that we kill so many people on our roadways, yet many consider it a cost of doing business. Like every other industry has managed to do, we need to develop a system of mobility and access that is not paid for in death and serious injury.

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

Cherry: All aspects of the social and economic system that rely on mobility should consider safe access. Safety can be achieved many ways, through planning, infrastructure design, technology, transportation choices and finally improved occupant protection and emergency response. I think that the historic efforts to improve safety have focused too much on the outcomes, i.e., people make mistakes and we do what we can in the vehicle to make sure they don’t die, but ultimately it’s their fault for making the mistake. We need to change the formula so that people in all modes are protected, and that the conditions of the transportation system so that the wages of those mistakes are not death.

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

Cherry: Good engineering and system planning should internalize the risks inherent in the system. Engineers should ask themselves, over the life of this road or intersection, is it reasonably likely that someone will be injured or killed? For most engineering projects the answer to that question would be a resounding yes. An ethical engineer must acknowledge that at least, and hopefully scrutinize the evidence that leads to that outcome and adjust their design accordingly.

Crossroads: How have you integrated perspectives from other fields into your own work?

Cherry: I am an engineer, but I often work across disciplines. I have overlapping interests in planning, economics and behavior, and those areas all feed into how we design our system. Moreover, working with CSCRS collaborators has provided opportunities to work with public health and epidemiology colleagues that I have not historically interacted with directly.

Crossroads: How can the work you’re doing now (or through CSCRS) help move the profession out of the status quo into something different?

Cherry: I hope to inspire a future generation of engineers to think more critically and holistically about safety. We need safety to be in every aspect of our transportation curriculum, not just touched in a single elective course. I hope that safety themes resonate in all of my research. We also need to generate evidence that supports engineers in decision making. We need better evidence, and we need to understand how to formulate that evidence into sound policy.

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

Cherry: Focus on applications of research that you are passionate about and are fun to you. It is hard to build and generate the energy to build and sustain a research program in academia or elsewhere based on pure effort. You have to have a real curiosity and fire inside to make an impact and not burn out at the same time. Everyone has to pay dues and do work or tasks that they’re not interested in, but at the end of the day, most of the work you do should add energy, not take it away.

Okay, time for me to go write that IRB application…

Other CSCRS highlights

A quick rundown of additional recent CSCRS activities and recognitions:

For more on CSCRS’s activities from the last several months, view the most recent Semi-Annual Progress Report.

CSCRS bookshelf

“The Future of the City,” Leo Hollis, Aeon, April 11, 2013

By Dev Seth 

Dev Seth is a student researcher in the Duke Humans and Autonomy Lab.

Urban historian Leo Hollis’ article “The Future of the City” explores the property of resilience against extreme events in metropolitan areas. Well-informed by a litany of history examples, Hollis characterizes the city as an ecosystem composed of a multitude of moving parts, arguing that in order for this system to develop resiliency, both the human/sociological and the built/technological features of the city must be taken into account. To this end, he details innovative approaches taken by academic labs and city administrations to integrate systemwide real-time data from across a city, generating the pulse of a living, breathing entity that big data methods can utilize.

This integrated approach is already being explored in public transportation and ground traffic management, especially with the efficiency increases promised by smarter technologies and with connected autonomous vehicles on the horizon. Overall, I think Hollis’ article is worth reading for its interdisciplinary take on the “cities as systems” idea, one that definitely helped me think about urban mobility and transportation in a forward-looking, big picture way.


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