UNC Center Leading Major Highway Safety Study

The head of UNC’s Highway Safety Research Center thinks it’s “time to rethink our approach to road safety.”

“Legacy safety issues,” including impaired driving and speeding, “claim the lives of thousands of road users each year,” observes David Harkey, who directs the University center that was founded in 1965, less than a decade after the federal government created the interstate highway system.

Harkey recently was tapped to also serve as director of an additional center — a National University Transportation Center funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The University will receive $2.8 million in the first year, and up to $15 million in grant funding over five years, to create and manage the Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety — an opportunity, officials say, for UNC to lead and influence the future of transportation safety research for the nation.

The Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety plans to conduct multidisciplinary research and education and technology transfer activities aimed at reducing injuries and fatalities on the nation’s roads.

“We must build a smarter, safer transportation future with dynamic travel choices, capacity, and infrastructure for all road users,” said Rep. David Price ’61, ranking member of the U.S. House appropriations subcommittee responsible for transportation and housing. “The Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety will make an invaluable contribution to our understanding of how best to do so.”

Led by the Highway Safety Research Center in collaboration with the University’s department of city and regional planning and the Injury Prevention Research Center, the center will bring together transportation research, planning, public health, data science and engineering programs at Carolina, Duke, Florida Atlantic, the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Tennessee.

While working with “legacy safety issues,” Harkey said, the new center “will explore how today’s research can help us prepare for the challenges that tomorrow will bring, such as traffic safety problems brought on by changes in technology or sociodemographic shifts.”

This grant is one of 32 five-year awards and one of five national centers that will be awarded to lead consortia under the University Transportation Centers program to advance research and education programs that work on transportation challenges. Subsequent awards using federal fiscal 2017 to fiscal 2020 funding are expected to be made annually, subject to availability of funds and grantee compliance with grant terms and conditions.


Share via: