The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) made an impressive showing during the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 94th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Jan. 10–14. The meeting hosted 12,000 researchers, policy makers, practitioners and transportation professionals from around the world.
Turnbull Appointed to TRB’s Executive Committee
TTI Executive Associate Director Katie Turnbull was appointed to the TRB Executive Committee for a three-year term. The executive committee is the senior policy-making body of TRB, providing guidance and oversight of TRB’s activities. Since 1988, Turnbull has been extremely active in TRB, including serving as chair or member of 23 TRB councils and committees. Last year she was honored with TRB’s W. N. Carey Distinguished Service Award. In 2012, she was named a lifetime national associate of the National Research Council.
“It’s a real honor to be appointed to the Executive Committee,” notes Turnbull, “especially considering that TTI Directors Herb Richardson and Charley Wootan also served on that committee.”
TDS Wins TRB Public Involvement Committee Outreach Competition
TTI’s Teens in the Driver Seat® (TDS) program won the TRB Communicating with John and Jane Q. Public competition, sponsored by the TRB Public Involvement Committee, which highlights successful transportation communication efforts. The theme of this year’s competition was “communicating transportation needs and issues with targeted populations.” Five recipients were chosen from 17 entries across the United States to present their communication tools and techniques at podium and poster sessions. TDS was named the overall competition winner.
“Our program is peer to peer, so teens have a very big role in our communication efforts,” TTI Research Specialist Stacey Tisdale explains. “We study what they’re doing behind the wheel and then ask for their input. We polish up their ideas and then put it back out to them. As a result, the messaging is teen focused, which gives us more buy-in.”
Outstanding Student of the Year
Former TTI Graduate Research Assistant Marea Pappas was recognized as a University Transportation Center (UTC) Outstanding Student of the Year at the Council of University Transportation Centers Annual Banquet held at TRB. Pappas was selected by the University of South Florida’s National Center for Transit Research, with which TTI is partnered. Based on technical merit and research, academic performance, and professionalism and leadership, the recognition includes a $1,000 cash award. Pappas was employed with TTI in 2015 and worked on a UTC project titled Exploring Transit’s Contribution to Livability in Rural Communities.
TTI Researchers Recognized with TRB Paper Awards
Five TTI researchers were honored with Outstanding Paper Awards at TRB. Lead author Michael Pratt and co-authors Srinivas Geedipally and Adam Pike received the Fred Burggraf Award for “An Analysis of Vehicle Speeds and Speed Differentials in Curves.” The project analyzed state crash data and traffic operations on roadway curves, suggesting where high-friction pavement could be used to prevent crashes. The work was also recognized by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials as a High-Value Research Project. Pratt presented the project during a TRB poster session.
TTI Associate Research Scientist Raul Avelar and Senior Research Engineer Karen Dixon were honored with the Patricia F. Waller Award for their paper “Evaluation of Intersection-Related Crash Screening Methods Based on Distance from Intersection,” first recognized for a Committee Paper Award by the TRB Safety Data, Analysis and Evaluation Committee. The researchers recommend that departments of transportation (DOTs) consider crashes as intersection related when they occur up to 300 feet away from signalized intersections for higher-speed facilities.
The TRB Pedestrians Committee recognized “Road User Behaviors at Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons” by TTI Senior Research Engineer Kay Fitzpatrick and Assistant Research Engineer Mike Pratt with a Committee Paper Award. Their research analyzed driver and pedestrian behaviors at pedestrian hybrid beacons (PHBs) and revealed that 96 percent of drivers yielded to pedestrians when the PHB was activated, a number comparable to those who yielded to traffic control signals. A greater number of pedestrians activated the PHB when on 45-mph posted speed limit roads as compared to roads with posted speed limits of 40 mph or less.
The TRB Traffic Control Devices Committee selected “Guidelines for Traffic Control Devices at Changes in Horizontal Alignment” by TTI Associate Transportation Researcher Brad Brimley, Senior Research Engineer Paul Carlson and Research Engineer Gene Hawkins, also an associate professor in the Texas A&M Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, for its 2016 Committee Paper Award. DOTs can use this research, based on extensive driver performance and crash data, to better determine which traffic control devices to use at curves. The guidelines developed from the research will be considered for inclusion in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
The TRB Safety Data, Analysis and Evaluation Committee picked TTI Graduate Research Assistant Lingtao Wu for a TRB Young Researcher Paper Award. Based on his dissertation, Wu coauthored “Validation of CMFs Derived from Cross Sectional Studies Using Regression Models” with TTI Associate Research Scientist Dominique Lord. The paper examines the quality of crash modification factors (CMFs) derived from regression models, focusing on potentially biased estimates resulting from CMFs.