AASHTO Journal, 7 August 2015
The Federal Highway Administration plans to soon announce $500,000 in awards of contracts or cooperative agreements for researchers to explore a major national database of driver behavior and roadway safety information developed in the second Strategic Highway Research Program.
The agency expects in September to award about five research contracts that can be worth up to $100,000 each, after a request for proposals that it issued in June was expiring early this month.
The SHRP2 program produced a Naturalistic Driving Study and a Roadway Information Database, and wants researchers in this initial review phase to explore how using those information sources can help solve highway safety problems.
This first phase could pave the way for a potential second research phase, the agency said, that would be an in-depth investigation of the SHRP2 safety data and could lead to advancements in responding to real-world safety problems.
“Accessibility to these data provides an unprecedented opportunity,” the FHWA said in a June 24 proposals request, “to construct an in-depth understanding of how drivers interact with their vehicles, the roadway and, ultimately, support the identification and development of safety improvements.”
The application period was initially slated to close Aug. 3, but was extended to Aug. 6, said Pam Hutton, SHRP2 program manager at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
The June 24 proposals request said: “The most comprehensive database ever gathered on driver behavior was developed through SHRP2.”
The Naturalistic Driving Study, which was completed last year, has data from over 3,400 volunteers from six sites across the nation. Each driver’s vehicle was equipped with cameras and sensors that continuously collected information from all trips taken for 1 to 2 years. In all, the dataset covers 4.3 million trips, the FHWA said.
That NDS data is complemented by the Roadway Information Database, which contains detailed roadway data on about 12,500 centerline highway miles in and around the study sites plus information on another 200,000 centerline miles or so acquired from state inventories. That includes crash histories, traffic and weather conditions, work zones and active safety campaigns in the study areas.
The NDS and RID data sets, the FHWA notice said, “provide state departments of transportation, researchers, and others with a uniquely powerful data resource to study driver performance, roadway design and the interactions between them.”