The nation’s two largest university-based transportation research institutes have joined forces to form a unique university transportation center (UTC) designed to improve safety through a multidisciplinary system approach to research. The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) and The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) — which leads the effort — form the UTC, called the Center for Advancing Transportation Leadership and Safety (ATLAS).
ATLAS’s funding has been initiated with a first-year, $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the expectation of continued funding over the next three to five years.
“We are very pleased to be given the opportunity for two of the largest transportation safety research institutes to work together to solve the most pressing transportation problems facing our nation,” says ATLAS Director David Eby, who is a research professor and head of the Behavioral Sciences Group at UMTRI.
Robert Wunderlich, TTI’s Center for Transportation Safety director, will serve as associate director for ATLAS. “This is a terrific opportunity for TTI to strengthen our ties with UMTRI and also conduct research in areas that have not been our primary focus in the past,” he says.
In one of the first ATLAS research projects now underway, experts from both universities will examine heavy-truck crashworthiness and the potential of occupant protection systems in “reducing deaths, injuries and societal costs associated with heavy-truck crashes.” The project will include the mining of crash data and statistical simulation. Students at both universities will take part in the research.
Two other early ATLAS projects involve alcohol-impaired nighttime driving and child safety in cars. In addition to collaborative research projects, ATLAS’s mission involves the promotion of technology transfer and workforce development that includes a summer intern program.