WTI researchers Natalie Villwock-Witte, Karalyn Clouser, Jaime Sullivan, and David Kack have embarked on an FHWA task order project to explore the relationship between socio-economics, infrastructure, and travel behavior in rural communities. “Emerging Technologies and Opportunities for Improved Mobility and Safety for Rural Areas” will evaluate potential applications of new transportation modes and advanced technologies to address the unique transportation needs in small communities and rural areas.
The research team
includes the Cadmus Group (project lead), WTI, and EBP-US (formerly the EDR
Group). WTI’s role will encompass tasks to describe the rural landscape, define
unmet transportation needs, identify potential strategies to address the unmet
needs, and develop case studies. “New
transportation options such as shared mobility and connected vehicles are transforming
transportation in urban and suburban settings,” said Natalie; “we’re excited to
explore which ones can be successfully implemented in rural areas and how they
can have economic and quality of life benefits for residents.” Karalyn added that the project also addresses
the varying definitions for “rural” throughout transportation research:
“Another important benefit is the opportunity to develop a consistent,
data-driven description of rural that can be applied to other projects in the
As the project progresses, future information will be posted available
on the WTI website project page.
The National Center for Rural Road Safety is co-sponsoring a webinar with FHWA and NLTAPA on the Every Day Counts round five (EDC-5) initiative, “Focus on Reducing Rural Roadway Departures (FoRRRwD): Funding and Data to Identify Projects.” This free webinar will be presented on April 16, 2020, at 1 pm (Eastern time). Presenters from three states will share their guidance and experiences. More information is available on the FHWA registration webpage.
On April 22, 2020, at 1 pm (Mountain Time), CHSC will present “Together for Life Utah: Reducing Disparities Between Urban and Rural Seat Belt Use Rates.” In 2013, the Highway Safety Office of the Utah Department of Public Safety engaged CHSC in a multi-year pilot project to reduce the significant disparities in seat belt use rates between Utah’s urban areas and rural areas. In this webinar, learn how the Together for Life Project successfully promoted seat belt use in seven rural counties by bolstering family rules, workplace rules, and bystander engagement. To register, visit the CHSC Webinar page.
On March 25, Center for Health and Safety Culture Director Nic Ward led a webinar for the National Center for Rural Road Safety on “Traffic Safety Culture Messaging.” More than 300 people attended the forum, which summarized different forms of traffic safety culture messages, discussed the importance of a positive message “frame,” and presented aspects of message design to overcome audience resistance. The webinar is available for viewing on the Safety Center’s Archived Webinar webpage.
The Society for Ecological Restoration has started a “Wednesday Webinar” series to promote information sharing and professional development in response to conference cancellations. One of the first invited speakers was WTI Research Scientist Marcel Huijser, who led a webinar on March 25 on “Open Access: Where Road Ecology and Ecological Restoration Converge.” The presentation focused on new approaches designed to shift from providing safe crossing opportunities for large mammals to restoring habitat connectivity for a wide range of species groups. The webinar is available on the ECR Webinar webpage.
The following day, Marcel
also presented via webinar at the University of Montana, which has transitioned
its courses to online delivery. He gave
a remote lecture on road ecology to the students of WILD 370, Wildlife Biology,
a course taught by Professor Mark Hebblewhite, who leads the UM Ungulate
On April 1, Education and Workforce Program Manager Susan Gallagher presented at CommuteCon2020, a virtual gathering of national experts exploring issues related to the “science of smart commuting,” such as telework, commuter behavior, and emerging travel modes. Susan’s presentation, entitled “Rural Matters,” addressed how professional capacity building and workforce development initiatives are needed to support the development and implementation of transportation solutions and new technologies in rural areas. Her presentation is available on the CommuteCon webpage.