CSCRS selects 12 new transportation safety research projects

This spring, CSCRS selected 12 new research projects to explore a range of transportation safety topics and extend its ongoing research activities. This is CSCRS’s fourth round of research projects selected through a peer-review process. The 12 new projects:

To learn more about all CSCRS research projects and activities, visit

NaTMEC 2021 connects the traffic monitoring world with Safe Systems concepts

The CSCRS-hosted National Travel Monitoring Exposition and Conference (NaTMEC) 2021, June 21-25, 2021, will focus on the role traffic monitoring plays in ensuring a safe transportation system. Several of the 40+ sessions during this virtual event will be presented by CSCRS researchers sharing recent work:

  • “Rating Datasets for the National Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Data Clearinghouse”
    Speaker: Krista Nordback, HSRC
  • “Systemic, Risk-based Pedestrian Safety Process”
    Speaker: Wes Kumfer, Ph.D, RSP1, HSRC
  • “Walking with biosensing wristbands: An exploration of pedestrian stress in natural and urban environments”
    Speaker: Seth LaJeunesse, HSRC
  • “Use of Performance Measures to Improve Data Quality”
    Speaker: Nancy Lefler, HSRC

Browse the NaTMEC website for registration, the full agenda, and other helpful information. Sponsorship opportunities are still available; the Sponsors page includes a list of sponsors, sponsor packages, and a thorough FAQ section. Contact Jennifer Palcher-Silliman directly for more information.

Next CSCRS webinar examines how traffic crashes are framed on TV 

The next CSCRS webinar, “Traffic Crashes as Seen On TV: An Opportunity to Reshape the Dialogue Around Road User Injury,” will be held on July 1, 2021, 2 – 3 PM Eastern. CSCRS researchers Seth LaJeunesse, HSRC, and Sydney Nicolla, UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, will share insight from their CSCRS project Factors and frames that shape public discourse around road user safety, which involved analyzing more than 1,000 U.S. TV news stories featuring crashes between 2012-2019. The webinar will focus on their findings, which revealed clear patterns of reporting, such as focusing on traffic congestion, placing responsibility solely on road users, and treating most crashes as isolated from other crashes. This project has produced a media framing guide for transportation and public health professionals.

CSCRS bookshelf: Student projects address equity issues in transportation

Alejo Alvarado

In this edition of CSCRS bookshelf, instead of sharing reading recommendations for others’ work, we’re pleased to share the work of two CSCRS students, both of whom focused their final graduate school projects on topics related to equity issues in transportation. Check out their impressive reports:

Sarah Brown


2020 CSCRS Student of the Year, Benjamin Bauchwitz

Head Shot of 2020 Student of the Year Benjamin Bauchwitz

Benjamin Bauchwitz

In January 2021, CSCRS announced Benjamin Bauchwitz, a doctoral student in the Humans and Autonomy Lab (HAL) at Duke University, as its 2020 Outstanding Student of the Year. Bauchwitz was honored during the Council of University Transportation Center’s virtual 2021 Awards Banquet. CSCRS chose Bauchwitz as its outstanding student as part of a U.S. Department of Transportation program honoring students from University Transportation Centers who have demonstrated achievements in academic performance, research, leadership, professionalism, and potential future contributions in the transportation field.

Systems spotlight: New resources

CSCRS continues to see results from the valuable conversations had and connections made at the Safe Systems Summit in 2019. And we’re so happy to be a part of many efforts to share information and resources further exploring the Safe Systems topic. (It’s “tech transfer” at work!) Two new resources – developed by others – to share:

Webinar: CSCRS to participate in NTSB Safe System virtual roundtable

On Thursday, May 20, CSCRS researchers and other partners will participate in the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) roundtable “A Safe System Approach to Traffic Safety.” The goal of the event, to be held 12 – 2 PM Eastern, is to increase awareness of the Safe System approach and elevate it as a proven effective strategy to eliminate deaths and serious injuries in motor vehicle crashes. The event site includes a link to join the roundtable. NTSB invites participants to submit questions in advance to

Stay tuned! NTSB is planning additional future events that will explore the Safe System approach.

Resource: Recommendations of the Safe System Consortium now available

CSCRS leadership, Advisory Board members, and researchers were pleased to join a group of engineers, scientists, public health professionals, and safety experts convened by the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research & Policy and the Institute of Transportation Engineers in early 2021 to discuss the potential for reimagining road safety and equity in the United States.

A series of productive conversations and deliberations resulted in Recommendations of the Safe System Consortium, designed to provide recommendations “to change the course of road safety and work toward a more equitable transportation system.”

As the recommendations state, “frustrated that conventional safety approaches have not shifted the rank of traffic deaths as the leading cause of death for young people and with the associated endemic inequities rooted in our road transportation system, the group considered the potential of the Safe System approach for changing the way roads affect our lives and communities.”

Also, read CSCRS Advisory Board member and Vison Zero Network Founder and Director Leah Shahum’s related blog post, “Addressing Safety & Equity with the Safe System Approach.”

Education and professional development: Review

CSCRS continues to engage students and professionals in a variety of other learning activities:

Collaborator profile: Tab Combs

Dr. Tab Combs

CSCRS is excited to feature researcher Dr. Tabitha Combs, DCRP, in this issue’s collaborator profile. Last year Combs created the “Shifting Streets” COVID-19 Mobility Dataset, a resource that tracked early responses to changing demands on public space during the pandemic. (The dataset is hosted on the website of partner organization the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.) She is also the principal investigator on the new CSCRS projects COVID-19 streets: Mobility justice and the rapid rollout of pedestrian and bicyclist improvements and Using Safe Systems approach to assess traffic impact and land development.

Crossroads: Why do you believe it is important to create a new approach to researching road safety, and what does a systems approach to road safety mean to you?

Combs: The traditional approach to road safety is reactionary: Wait until a dangerous situation leads to a crash, and then eliminate or suppress the actions that immediately preceded the crash. In practice, this often translates to suppressing mobility for vulnerable road users. By focusing on crashes, the traditional approach does not allow for consideration of the positive impacts of safe mobility—the benefits of ensuring that all people can participate in society on their own terms, using travel routes and modes that fit their needs, abilities, risk tolerances, and time and resource constraints.

By shifting the focus away from crashes and toward systemic risk reduction, the Safe Systems approach flips this traditional model on its head, asking not “How do we keep people from crashing” but instead, “How do we ensure people can do what they need to do safely?” As a transportation planner focused on expanding mobility options and improving access to opportunity for resource-constrained households, the Safe Systems approach really resonates with me.

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

Combs: Planning is a discipline of interactions. We study interactions among individuals and the physical, natural, social, and regulatory environments in which they live, and we shape those interactions through design and policy. Thus, we are well positioned to bring together a variety of perspectives and understand how diverse sets of factors work together to influence how and why people move around in their communities.

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

Combs: I have two projects underway that seek to build on the “safety-positive” aspects of Safe Systems. In the first, we are using the COVID-streets phenomenon as a natural laboratory for understanding the role of public engagement in the design and implementation of new facilities for vulnerable road users. The second project examines the relationships between land development regulations and road safety, with an ultimate goal of integrating safety into traffic impact assessment models.

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

Combs: I would like to see us continue the shift away from reacting to conflict and toward building forgiveness and reducing risk across mobility systems. Doing this will require us to develop a much broader, more inclusive definition of mobility systems—far beyond physical infrastructure—as well as a more holistic understanding of the risks and constraints travelers are experiencing in their daily lives.

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

Combs: Through CSCRS, I was provided an opportunity to develop and teach a new, cross-disciplinary course that integrates infrastructure design, road safety, and mobility justice. After my first year of teaching the course, it was listed as a requirement for undergraduate environmental studies students taking part in a sustainability field studies program. Few of these students had ever considered the relationships among safety, equity, and sustainability before taking this course. By the end, many of them regularly ask how to continue learning about road safety, and several have asked to work with me on their own research projects inspired by the course. To me, there are few greater rewards than knowing you have had a positive influence on a future transportation professional.

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

Combs: Creating truly safer roads means understanding the multitude of factors shaping how people use roads—where they live, what modes are available to them, how their actions are constrained and dictated by time, resources, and social expectations. To integrate lived experiences with technical analyses, successful transportation planners engage their communities beyond isolated public hearings and embrace community members as partners in planning.

Other CSCRS highlights

A quick rundown of additional recent activities related to CSCRS and its partners:

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


Join CSCRS on social media

Like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.


Sign up to receive CSCRS news and updates.


CSCRS Crossroads newsletters are archived here.