Kong Publishes Paper on Phone Usage and Distracted Driving
TTI Graduate Research Assistant Xiaoqiang “Jack” Kong recently coauthored the research paper “Characterizing Phone Usage While Driving: Safety Impact from Road and Operational Perspectives Using Factor Analysis” published in Accident Analysis & Prevention. Kong’s Institute coauthors include Assistant Research Scientist Subasish Das, Associate Transportation Researcher Hongmin “Tracy” Zhou, and Associate Research Scientist Yunglong Zhang, also a professor in Texas A&M University’s civil and environmental engineering department.
The researchers used factor analysis on a unique distracted-driving data set to understand phone usage while driving (PUWD) behavior from roadway and operational perspectives. Their findings indicate that the presence of a shoulder, median, higher speed limit and access control on the roadways with a higher functional class could encourage more PUWD events. The results also confirm the correlation between the frequency of PUWD events and the frequency of distracted crashes, especially on urban roadways. Transportation agencies can use the findings of this study to identify suitable countermeasures to reduce distraction-related crashes. The findings can also provide researchers with a new perspective to study PUWD behavior.
Villa Publishes Book on North American, European Trade and Transportation
TTI Research Scientist Juan Carlos Villa has coauthored International Trade and Transportation Infrastructure Development: Experiences in North America and Europe (first edition), published April 24, 2020, on Elsevier’s publisher platform. Villa manages TTI’s Mexico City Office, where he oversees research in freight transportation, logistics and trade.
The team of authors analyzes how trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the European Union Customs Union impact transportation systems and infrastructure in the member countries. The analysis takes a broad, historical perspective, categorizing trade by mode over time, examining modal shifts related to trade policy and disputes, and recognizing the modal shifts’ implications for all involved countries.
“This book starts with a clear description of the relationship between transportation infrastructure and trade, followed by a comprehensive narrative of the waterway, road and railway systems in North America and Europe,” says Villa. “[The book] offers readers a one-stop shop for insights on trade and transportation in North America and Europe.”
Khodadadi Publishes Safety Performance Functions Article
TTI Graduate Research Assistant Ali Khodadadi recently coauthored a paper, “Application of Different Negative Binominal Parameterizations to Develop Safety Performance Functions for Non-federal Aid System Roads,” published in the June 2021 edition of Accident Analysis & Prevention. The article focuses on safety performance functions (SPFs) for non-federal aid system (NFAS) roads (e.g., local roads in rural or urban areas).
“NFAS roads account for more than 75 percent of U.S. total roadway mileage,” says Khodadadi. “Our study aims to bridge the literature gap by developing advanced, customized SPFs that best suit NFAS roads. The results can significantly improve NFAS safety assessments, as well as benefit any crash data set requiring more flexible, innovative model structures.”
Khodadadi works in TTI’s Traffic Operations and Roadway Safety Division and is pursuing his Ph.D. in transportation engineering at Texas A&M University.
“This Safe-D project demonstrates how new data sources for vehicle movement can supplement traditional traffic volume data collection efforts. Often, recent traffic counts on local roads are lacking or outdated,” says Safe-D Associate Director Sue Chrysler, senior research scientist in TTI’s Traffic Operations Group. “This leveraging of disruptive technology while improving safety is what the Safe-D UTC is all about.”
Wunderlich Briefs Texas House Committee on Pedestrian Safety
TTI Senior Research Engineer Robert Wunderlich briefed the Texas House Committee on Transportation March 30, 2021, on pedestrian fatality statistics as background for House Bill 443. Wunderlich, director of TTI’s Center for Transportation Safety, briefed lawmakers on the increase in Texas pedestrian fatalities since 2011 and the characteristics associated with them.
Appearing as a resource witness before the committee, Wunderlich reported, “Pedestrian fatalities in Texas have risen steadily over the past 10 years,” citing an overall increase of 69 percent in pedestrian fatalities in Texas between 2011 and 2020. More than 700 pedestrian fatalities occurred last year.
While stating TTI’s neutral stance on the bill, Wunderlich also pointed out that pedestrian safety is one of seven emphasis areas embraced by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan. Wunderlich and other experts in TTI’s Center for Transportation Safety helped TxDOT formulate the current plan in 2017.
Das Publishes TRR Analysis in TR News
TTI Assistant Research Scientist Subasish Das published the article “Data Dive into Transportation Research Record Articles: Authors, Coauthorships and Research Trends” in the January–February 2021 issue of TR News, the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB’s) bimonthly magazine.
The article examines TRB’s Transportation Research Record (TRR), a peer-reviewed journal, including its history, aim and scope. In the study, Das developed an interactive, web-based tool, the TRR Coauthor Graphic (2001–2018), where TRR authors can see who is in their coauthorship network. Das found the network to be complex, which indicates a variety of coauthorships among TRR authors.
“The depth and breadth of the research published in TRR over the years are indicative of changing emphases in transportation research,” says Das. “The rapid rise of new technologies and a commensurate growth in peer-reviewed publications — as well as a greater emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration — have revolutionized transportation research.”
TTI, Hillwood Announce Research Partnership
TTI entered into an agreement with Hillwood as AllianceTexas’ official mobility innovation zone (MIZ) research partner. Hillwood’s AllianceTexas development is located next to the world’s first dedicated industrial airport, Fort Worth Alliance Airport. The partnership will leverage the experience and expertise of TTI’s nationally recognized transportation researchers and forward thinkers with the MIZ’s capacity and capabilities.
TTI will conduct research, manage strategic initiatives for the MIZ, and serve as a think tank for new opportunities in mobility at AllianceTexas. Unlike anywhere else in the nation, the MIZ provides partner organizations the scale, infrastructure and environment for the commercialization of emerging technologies in air and surface mobility.
“As budding surface and air mobility technologies take off, our research partnership with Hillwood reinforces TTI’s ongoing commitment to testing and scaling innovations that impact the way we live,” says TTI Agency Director Greg Winfree. “The location and capabilities that the MIZ offers provide an unparalleled sandbox for research and development of the technologies that will move business, goods and people forward.”
TTI experts involved in the partnership include Principal Investigator Juan Villa, along with Bob Brydia, Bill Eisele, Brittney Gick, Ginger Goodin, Mario Monsreal, Allan Rutter and Ed Seymour.
Expanding upon the Institute’s experience, the MIZ provides a one-of-a-kind backdrop offering mobility visionaries full access to a unique testing ecosystem, resources and partnerships essential to comprehensively test, scale and commercialize the latest technologies.
“Our partnership with TTI is a natural pairing for the next phase of research and development at the MIZ,” says Ian Kinne, director of logistics innovation for Hillwood. “With unmatched expertise in the field, TTI ensures we have the research-backed results needed to not only set the standard for — but also make significant advancements in — budding mobility technology.”
Fitzpatrick Featured in ITE Journal
TTI Senior Research Engineer Kay Fitzpatrick was featured in two articles in the March 2021 issue of the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ (ITE’s) ITE Journal.
In “From Pen to Practice,” the journal interviewed Fitzpatrick on
- the value of writing in advancing her transportation career,
- advice for young professionals in the transportation field, and
- her favorite memories and achievements as a longtime ITE member.
Also in the issue, Fitzpatrick and TTI Senior Research Scientist Eun Sug Park co-wrote the article “Evaluation of Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons, Including on High-Speed Streets” with Michael Cynecki of Lee Engineering in Phoenix, Ariz. A pedestrian hybrid beacon is a traffic control device placed at pedestrian crossings. Operational data collected at 10 high-speed crossing locations in Arizona showed high driver compliance, consistent with findings on lower-speed streets. The findings from the safety study indicate that crashes decreased after a pedestrian hybrid beacon was installed.
TTI Crash Analytics Experts Publish Highway Safety Analytics and Modeling
Two crash analytics and modeling group members in TTI’s Center for Transportation Safety published the first edition of Highway Safety Analytics and Modeling Feb. 25, 2021, on Elsevier’s publisher platform. Dominique Lord, Texas A&M University Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering professor, and Srinivas Geedipally, TTI research engineer, are coauthors along with Xiao Qin, director of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee’s Institute for Physical Infrastructure and Transportation.
The book is intended as a resource for transportation engineers and policy makers who work with highway safety data. The book helps engineers and policy makers walk through the decision-making process, from gathering and sorting data to building models and evaluating results. Readers can use the book to gain a better understanding of how to best use highway safety data to create countermeasures, policies and programs that decrease traffic crash frequency and severity. Examples and case studies offer real-world applications that make it easier to see how the models and methods might fit into the evaluative process.
Kuhn Elected International President of ITE
TTI Senior Research Engineer Beverly Kuhn was elected the 2022 international president of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and will take office in January 2022.
Kuhn leads TTI’s System Reliability Division and is a Texas A&M University System Regents Fellow. During her more than 30 years at TTI, she has developed diverse and extensive experience in the conduct and delivery of cutting-edge research for the transportation community. Kuhn has been active in ITE since she was a student at Texas A&M University and has held significant leadership roles in the organization over the past 30 years.
“I am honored to have been chosen to serve our professional organization as president and am excited to help ITE lead the way in these innovative times,” says Kuhn. “I am committed to ensuring our transportation system serves and supports our communities — large and small — and all who hope for a healthy and prosperous future.”