CSCRS activities @ TRB 2022

CSCRS research will be showcased in dozens of workshops, lectern presentations, posters, and more at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 101st Annual Meeting in January 2022. Examples of topics include:

View the full list of CSCRS activities at TRB 2022.

Next CSCRS webinars focus on data linkage and micromobility safety behavior

CSCRS will continue its webinar series focused on collaborative research advancing transportation safety with a session on data linkage in January 2022. Reserve your spot today!

Title: Building a MVC injury system of linked data: Lessons learned & questions answered about pedestrian injuries

Date/time: Wednesday, January 26, 2022, 2:30 – 3:00 PM Eastern

Description: Linking motor vehicle crash (MVC) and healthcare data has the potential to generate a more comprehensive understanding of MVC injuries, including pedestrian injuries. However, building a successful, sustainable system of linked data involves engaging funders and stakeholders, obtaining data use permissions, testing and implementing linkage methods, and disseminating results to a diverse audience. This webinar will highlight the ups and downs of North Carolina’s data linkage experience, including how linked data have been used to answer critical questions about pedestrian injuries.


  • Katie Harmon, Research Associate, UNC Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC)
  • Anna Waller, Research Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, UNC School of Medicine; Director, Carolina Center for Health Informatics; Adjunct Associate Professor, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

Moderator: Dan Gelinne, Senior Research Associate, UNC Highway Safety Research Center


The following webinar will be held Feb. 23, 2022, and will feature Chris Cherry, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, discussing the project Understanding micromobility safety behavior and standardizing safety metrics for transportation system integration. More details and a link to register will be available soon.

Recordings from previous webinars are also available on the series page.

Missy Cummings

Missy Cummings

CSCRS expresses support for Missy Cummings NHTSA appointment 

CSCRS’s consortium members sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg on December 8, 2021, expressing full support for the appointment of Mary “Missy” Cummings as a senior advisor for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The letter stated that “Dr. Cummings has demonstrated time and time again a deep understanding of sound science and the core principles of Safe Systems, making her a perfect choice to inform policies on advanced driver assistance technologies, human-automation interaction, and other important developments that impact road safety.” Read the full letter.

CSCRS creates hub for research-to-practice resources

CSCRS has curated a new collection of resources that reflects how Safe Systems principles and systems science principles can be applied in real-world scenarios and integrated into injury prevention programs. Creating Safer Systems and Healthier Communities: Resource Hub is intended to serve as a hub for research-to-practice innovation.

Emma Vinella-Brusher

2021 CSCRS Student of the Year, Emma Vinella-Brusher

CSCRS is thrilled to announce that Emma Vinella-Brusher, currently pursuing a dual master’s degree in Public Health and City and Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill, is the 2021 Outstanding Student of the Year. Vinella-Brusher will be honored in January 2022 during the Council of University Transportation Center’s virtual 2022 Awards Banquet (registration is free). CSCRS chose Vinella-Brusher as its outstanding student as part of a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) 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. Read more about Emma.

Systems spotlight: Infrastructure Act includes provisions referencing Safe System approach to road safety

Continuing the trend of Safe Systems and systems thinking principles being integrated into public policies, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that became law on November 15, 2021, includes language requiring that states “take into consideration” a Safe System approach when carrying out vulnerable road user safety assessments. The incorporation of systems language into the Act aligns with CSCRS’s mission to to create and exchange knowledge to advance transportation safety through a multidisciplinary, systems-based approach. 

The law defines the Safe System approach as follows:

The term `safe system approach’ means a roadway design—

    1. that emphasizes minimizing the risk of injury or fatality to road users; and
    2. that–
      1. takes into consideration the possibility and likelihood of human error;
      2. accommodates human injury tolerance by taking into consideration likely accident types, resulting impact forces, and the ability of the human body to withstand impact forces; and
      3. takes into consideration vulnerable road users.

In addition, the law contains other provisions related to road safety, such as:

  • A provision allowing USDOT to offer grants to localities to implement Vision Zero plans.
  • A provision allowing for grants to states, cities, and tribes for safe routes to school activities.

Education and professional development: CSCRS showcases multiple learning opportunities

CSCRS continues to provide and participate in a variety of learning activities, including:

Other CSCRS highlights

A quick rundown of additional recent CSCRS activities:

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

Collaborator profile: David Ragland

David Ragland

CSCRS is pleased to feature researcher David Ragland, University of California, Berkeley (UCB), in this issue’s profile. Ragland is the principal investigator for the CSCRS project Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the California EMS Information System (CEMSIS) Working Paper. Ragland serves as the Co-Director of the UCB Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC), and Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology.

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

Ragland: I spent the first part of my career in the area of chronic disease epidemiology. One particular study focused on stress and hypertension among transit workers at the San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI). Someone from MUNI sent me a set of data on crashes involving MUNI buses. I compulsively did some analyses and published a paper, and that led to a focus on transportation safety for most of the rest of my career.

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

Ragland: While progress was made in the first century of the automobile — for example, the Mileage Death Rate (MDR) decreased from over 20 in 1920 to fewer than 2 by 2010 — progress appears to have stalled. New approaches, such as increased emphasis on a systems approach, are critically needed.

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

Ragland: A systems approach recognizes that a crash involves a dynamic interaction involving environment, vehicle, and road user. A critical feature of the approach as it has evolved is the concept of mitigating the role of human error to prevent a crash, while reducing the impact of kinetic energy on road users if a crash occurs.

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

Ragland: My background is rooted in the science and practice of epidemiology and biostatistics. The core methods of these fields in terms of research design and data analysis lend themselves to effective applications for prevention of injury.

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

Ragland: Prior to my work in epidemiology and biostatistics, I studied and received a PhD in psychology. In my own work I’ve integrated perspectives from this discipline, particularly involving perception and judgment, in understanding phenomena such as rail crossing behavior, safety in numbers, driver and pedestrian behavior at marked versus unmarked crosswalks, etc.

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

Ragland: It seems to me that a critical direction in road safety is in accommodating safe mobility for multiple modes, including vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles, and micromobility. In our work at SafeTREC we have conducted or are currently conducting a large number of research projects focused on this topic, and multiple community-based safety/mobility assessments in which we address safety and mobility for all modes.

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

Ragland: I believe the most critical guidance for practical applications of road safety research would be realized as a result of community engagement and critical feedback from road users and others impacted by the transportation network. This involvement should take place at each stage of the process, including planning, implementation, and evaluation. This is in contrast to the approach whereby engineers and planners decide, with little community input, what should be done and then whether it was successful. Much of the current transportation system has evolved based on presumptions about what is safe and beneficial for users of the system, and this must be counterbalanced and corrected through community input.

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

Ragland: I am proud of the numerous papers and reports that, in conjunction with others, I have produced throughout my career. However, the most rewarding thing that has happened during my research career is the participation of numerous undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students in our research projects and courses. Many, indeed, most, are now involved in research, consultation, or teaching in areas of transportation safety and mobility.

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

Ragland: There are two principle realms of advice. The first is to be well-grounded in research methods, including research design, data collection, data analysis, and interpretation of results. The second is to be well-grounded in approaches involving community engagement and input.

CSCRS bookshelf

“Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America,” Angie Schmitt, Island Press

By Meiqing Li

Meiqing Li is a CSCRS Road Safety Graduate Fellow and PhD Candidate in City and Regional Planning at UCB.

Angie Schmitt’s “Right of Way” is a comprehensive read for whomever wants to learn more about the current landscape of pedestrian safety in the United States. It presents stories from communities, as well as findings and statistics from the latest academic research that provoke readers to rethink the status quo of American traffic engineering, vehicle design, institution, and social norms concerning pedestrian safety. As Schmitt puts, “pedestrian deaths are part of a systemic problem with systemic causes,” yet it has not drawn enough attention as compared with other kinds of deaths. It requires an initial recognition of the problem, and coordination between the public, government, transportation professionals, media, auto industry, and many others to work towards prioritizing life and safety over the convenience of driving.

Apart from advocating for a cultural shift, this book provides valuable insights into many topics for further research, especially at the frontier of technological innovation, for example, the interaction between self-driving cars and pedestrians, which raises critical behavioral and ethical questions.

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