Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) Senior Research Engineer Karen Dixon is the 2021 recipient of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Safety Council Edmund R. Ricker Award. The award recognizes traffic safety leaders through their involvement in professional organizations, the community and traffic engineering performance. The award is named after Edmund R. Ricker, president of ITE in 1967 and author of numerous traffic safety books and research papers.
Like Ricker, Dixon has a passion for traffic safety, especially improving the design process. After finishing her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Texas A&M University, she worked as a site development, roadway and interchange designer. She enjoyed making the design process better and mentoring the next generation. Inspired by her interactions with young professionals, she completed her master’s and doctoral degrees at North Carolina State University and became a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Oregon State University until she returned to Texas A&M and joined TTI in 2012.
At TTI, Dixon oversees the Traffic Operations and Roadway Safety Division where her research emphasizes ways to improve facility design, operation and safety for all road users. She plays a key role in updating the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Highway Safety Manual, which applies quantitative safety analysis to highway transportation project planning and development processes. She also serves as a co-chair on the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB’s) Safety Performance and Analysis Committee.
Nationally recognized as a roadway safety expert, Dixon is well-known for her uncanny ability to sort through high-level statistical techniques and turn them into easy-to-use, practitioner-friendly methodologies and tools. She is the author or co-author of more than 100 technical papers or research reports, including a highway design textbook and TRB’s Access Management Manual. Her creative approach to research challenges, coupled with her practical experience in the field and classroom, offer leadership lessons to an up-and-coming generation of traffic safety professionals.
“I’m very honored to be awarded the ITE Safety Council Edmund R. Ricker Individual Award,” says Dixon. “Traffic safety is a team effort! Ongoing work that focuses on safety for all road users could not be achieved without the input and guidance from many transportation professionals including my TTI colleagues, the many volunteers I have the privilege to work with from ITE and TRB, and transportation professionals who act as guardians of our transportation network daily. Thank you, ITE!”