TDS Honored by National Safety Council, Gains Partner
The National Safety Council (NSC) has recognized the Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS) program with its Teen Driving Safety Leadership Award. This is the fourth national award the TDS program has received.
For most of its nearly 100-year history, NSC has focused on workplace and transportation safety, but the organization did not begin to honor specific teen driving safety efforts until last year.
“These honorees were selected from nominees across the nation based on their demonstrated commitment and the measurable impact they had changing behaviors, enhancing public understanding of the issue and advocating proven prevention strategies,” NSC President Janet Froetscher said in announcing the TDS award.
As part of its announcement, NSC noted how TDS “has reached more than 400,000 young drivers and passengers, and has achieved measurable behavior changes and crash reductions.” The announcement also noted that TDS assisted in improving the state’s graduated driver license law during the last session of the Texas Legislature.
In another form of recognition, on July 14, AT&T donated $10,000 to support the continued expansion of TDS efforts. AT&T joins other TDS supporters, the Texas Department of Transportation and State Farm Insurance of Texas.
“We appreciate the generous support and are happy to have a new partner from the telecommunications industry,” said TDS Director Russell Henk.
AT&T’s involvement is especially encouraging, given the danger of distracted driving and the rapid growth in the number of teens with cell phones.
Drink. Ride. Lose. Addresses Motorcycle/Alcohol Issue
The Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT‘s) Traffic Safety Section launched a new motorcycle rider impairment campaign Oct. 1 at LookLearnLive.org. The Drink. Ride. Lose. anti-impaired riding campaign aims to bring awareness about the significance of the impaired rider crash problem in Texas and encourage safe motorcycle-riding practices.
The LookLearnLive.org website features Drink. Ride. Lose. campaign logos, billboards and links to testimonials about the dangers of drinking and riding. Other promotional items are available for events to help get the word out about the dangers of drinking and riding.
“With Drink. Ride. Lose., we’re focusing on the primary and most preventable cause of motorcyclist fatalities, alcohol use while riding,” says TxDOT Traffic Safety Motorcycle Program Manager Gonzalo Ponce.
“In order to make a significant impact, we realize that there first must be a change in rider behavior, and that is really our main goal.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes are 2.5 times more likely to have consumed alcohol than passenger-vehicle drivers. In 2008, 46 percent of riders killed in Texas had some level of alcohol in their system at the time of the crash. More than one out of three fatally injured riders were legally intoxicated (blood alcohol content 0.08+).
“These numbers are staggering and just not acceptable,” says Patricia Turner, research scientist with the Texas Transportation Institute, who manages the safety campaign. “We have to do more to communicate how serious this problem is and the effect of alcohol and drugs on riding ability.”
Beijing Visitors Boost TTI-BTRC Association
The relationship between the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the Beijing Transportation Research Center (BTRC) was strengthened this summer as representatives from the Chinese facility visited the Institute in July.
The two-day visit included tours of the Environmental and Emissions Research Facility, Translink®, the TTI driving simulator and Houston’s traffic management center, TranStar.
“Traffic congestion and air quality are our two biggest areas of concern,” says Huimin Wen, BTRC‘s deputy chief engineer. “What you have here is very impressive…we have numerous common research interests.”
TTI and BTRC began working together in 2006. Two years ago, TTI hosted a visiting scholar from BTRC for three months. Xiaoyong (Felix) Deng, senior engineer and director of the ITS Division of BTRC, was a visiting scholar at TTI this fall.
Anderson Joins Elite Construction Organization
Stuart Anderson, Zachry Professor in Design and Construction Integration II in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering and manager of TTI‘s Construction Engineering and Management Program, was inducted into the National Academy of Construction (NAC) in ceremonies held recently in New York City.
Following nomination by Anderson’s peers, his election was confirmed by the academy’s 119 members, who are made up of “industry leaders whose present or past professional career, over a period of years, demonstrates outstanding contribution to the effectiveness of the engineering and construction industry.”
“Membership into the academy will stand out as a pivotal moment of my career,” Anderson said. “Including me in the same group of people I admire — senior members of academia and national-level leaders in the design and construction industry — is truly an honor that I will always be thankful for.”
Anderson says he looks forward to working with NAC on future endeavors as it strives for a more proactive and influential impact on the construction industry.
Creekview High School
3201 Old Denton Road
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March 5, 2011
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TTI Plays Vital Role in Hurricane Evacuation
A patent-pending system developed by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) used to monitor travel times could be put to the test if Houston has to evacuate due to a hurricane.
The new travel-time monitoring system has been installed along Interstate 45 (I-45) from north of Houston to Huntsville. The system will also reach over 200 miles into Dallas County, providing current travel-time monitoring capability and the ability to determine traffic speeds along I-45.
“The data that our system provides will help determine when contraflow lanes should be opened during an evacuation event,” says Research Engineer Tony Voigt, who is the program manager for the Houston Research and Implementation Office. “Everyone remembers the evacuation issues in advance of Hurricane Rita in 2005. The new TTI travel-time monitoring system, in addition to five years of detailed evacuation planning, should facilitate much smoother future evacuations.”
The Institute’s patent-pending software is called AWAM, which is an acronym for Anonymous Wireless Address Matching. When Bluetooth®-equipped cell phones or other electronic devices inside vehicles pass monitoring stations, average travel times are calculated and mapped.
The AWAM software system and hardware technology were largely developed by TTI Senior System Analyst Mike Vickich and Research Scientist Darryl Puckett. Other TTI staff members, including Leonard Ruback, Rajat Rajbhandari and Swapnil Samant, have made and continue to make contributions to the technology.
“AWAM is an extremely efficient system that has numerous other applications — at a fraction of the cost of other traffic monitoring systems,” Voigt says. “It really opens the door for travel-time-related research and implementation on all types of roadways, especially in rural areas and on arterial roadways.”
2011 Traffic Safety Conference