SHRP2 Safety Program Will Soon “Get to Work”

AASHTO Journal, 28 March 2014

Work began last week to put the research conducted under the Naturalist Driving Study (NDS) into the hands of state departments of transportation as they seek new methods for reducing crashes and improving highway safety. AASHTO’s second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) Naturalistic Driving Study Task Force, led by Nevada Department of Transportation Director Rudy Malfabon and Iowa Department of Transportation Systems Operations Bureau Director Sandra Larson met to outline the key topics and approaches to be included in the safety solicitation, “Concept to Countermeasure – Research to Deployment Using the SHRP2 Safety Databases,” scheduled for the upcoming Round 4 of the Implementation Assistance Program.

The NDS and accompanying roadway information database (RID) were developed through SHRP2 while the Federal Highway Administration offers the Implementation Assistance Program (IAP), financial assistance and other types of support will be made available to state transportation departments that are interested in analyzing the data to identify crash causation factors and develop effective countermeasures that will address their unique safety concerns.

“This information will ultimately enable states to develop specific measures that will help us reduce crashes and save lives,” said Malfabon. “It’s a great opportunity for state DOTs and our partner research agencies to turn new data into valuable tools.”

Larson added that the IAP could “lead to significant breakthroughs and countermeasures that can be used by all of us to improve the safety on our roadways.”

The application process will begin on May 30 for several “Proof of Concept” pilot studies in a phased approach to be conducted by state DOTs along with their research partners. Because the use of the NDS data is subject to federal regulations governing privacy protection of human subjects, AASHTO and FHWA will hold two webinars to advise prospective applicants on the specific criteria, data confidentiality, and security needs. Look for announcements regarding those webinars in the future editions of the AASHTO Journal.

State DOTs will be encouraged to prepare and submit applications around special areas of concern related to their most urgent safety conditions. Topic areas for potential applicants to consider may include studies into:

  • Driver speed, adjustments, or reactions to various roadway or environmental conditions (e.g., work or school zones, weather, traffic control devices).
  • The influence of roadway features on driver behavior and reactions (e.g., signage, rumble strips, lighting).
  • Driver behaviors before crashes and in successful crash avoidance events.
  • Driver interaction and response to pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists.
  • How drivers modify their behaviors at-grade intersections with varying roadway features such as lighting conditions, signs or pavement markings, signalized versus un-signalized intersections, by the presence of pedestrians, by driver age or other driver characteristics.

As part of the SHRP2 research phase, the NDS effort represents the largest study of its kind and will provide new insights into driver behavior under normal conditions and immediately before crash and near-crash events. The data can allow highway agencies to better understand what happens in the vehicle and how the driver interacts with the roadway, the environment, other vehicles and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists. The two petabyte NDS database includes information on driver-behavior, environmental, and roadway data from more than five million highway driving trips.

For more information on the FHWA Implementation Assistance Program or on the safety program, go here or contact Pam Hutton, SHRP2 implementation manager, at phutton AT, or Kelly Hardy, AASHTO’s program manager for safety, at khardy AT

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