WTI Director Looks Forward to 2019, Launching New Projects and Hosting National Event

With the start of the new year, WTI Director Steve Albert sees a busy calendar ahead for himself and the organization as a whole – and that’s a good thing. “Over the last few years we’ve seen a lot of amazing advancements in the transportation field, but also a lot of uncertainty about the future – not to mention a lot more competition for research projects,” Albert said in a recent interview. “Recently, though, we’ve been awarded several nationally significant projects that I’m very excited about, so I’m looking forward to a busy and productive 2019 at WTI.”

For example, in fall 2018, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) selected WTI and Intrans (at Iowa State University) to lead the development of a Research Roadmap on Rural Transportation Issues, which is scheduled to be completed and released in 2019. “Our team is focused on identifying the research issues that can make the most difference in improving rural transportation across the country including infrastructure, safety, mobility, freight movement, and workforce shortages,” said Albert; “it’s an amazing opportunity to help shape and prioritize the future of transportation research at the national level.”

WTI is also gearing up to lead the team that is launching a major Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reduction and Habitat Connectivity project. WTI’s Road Ecology scientists will partner with other leading researchers from the U.S. and Canada on a three year $700,000+ pooled fund study administered by the Nevada Department of Transportation that includes seven other states, from Alaska to Iowa, and one Canadian province. It will include a cost-benefit analysis of various mitigation measures, a series of research projects and the development of a manual. The project will identify and evaluate the most cost-effective strategies and tools that DOTs can use to reduce the number of collisions between animals and vehicles and those measures that require additional research. “Ten years ago, WTI’s Road Ecology team completed the first nation-wide study that looked at the cost of these collisions and the cost-effectiveness of potential solutions,” Albert explained; “new mitigation options have emerged since then, and state DOTs need concrete information on what works, what is promising but might need some more study, and what is economically feasible to implement.”
https://www.pooledfund.org/Details/Study/610

In addition to conducting new research, WTI will host the 12th Transportation Research Board (TRB) International Conference on Low Volume Roads this September in in Kalispell, Montana. According to Albert, “TRB sponsors this conference to highlight new technologies and new techniques in the design, construction, and maintenance of low-volume roads; researchers and practitioners come from all over to discuss practical solutions to common problems on these roads.”

Overall, the WTI Director sees opportunities ahead for all of WTI’s Centers and research programs. “We continue to find critical transportation needs in both our longstanding program areas as well as some emerging ones,” said Albert. “Our Mobility and Public Transportation program is doing innovative work right here in Bozeman, Montana as well as in small towns around the country related to public transportation options (see News section). The Center for Health and Safety Culture has also had tremendous success in growing its training efforts to introduce amazing, culture-based approaches to health and safety initiatives.”

New Publications Released on Traffic Safety Culture and Traffic Safety Citizenship

A Strategic Approach to Transforming Traffic Safety Culture to Reduce Deaths and Injuries

The Transportation Research Board’s (TRB’s) National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) has released the results of a national study on traffic safety culture, led by P.I. Nic Ward of the Center for Health and Safety Culture and Cambridge Systematics. “A Strategic Approach to Transforming Traffic Safety Culture to Reduce Deaths and Injuries” provides guidance to state transportation agencies on how to transform the traffic safety culture of road users and stakeholders, with the long-term goal of sustaining improvements in traffic safety for all road users. Background information is available on the project webpage. The report is available at http://nap.edu/25286

Citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. A Strategic Approach to Transforming Traffic Safety Culture to Reduce Deaths and Injuries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25286.

The Role of Social Capital in Traffic Safety Citizenship

Kari Finley Ph.D., Jay Otto M.S., and Nic Ward Ph.D. with the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) at Montana State University have published an article in the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies. The article titled “The Role of Social Capital in Traffic Safety Citizenship” focuses on two traffic safety citizenship behaviors: asking a passenger to wear a seat belt and asking a driver to stop texting on a cell phone while driving and explores the role of social capital to facilitate engagement in these behaviors with strangers. Results indicate that social capital may influence engagement in traffic safety citizenship behaviors. This project was conducted in cooperation with the US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration and the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), as part of a Traffic Safety Culture Pooled Fund. The article is available through Open Access and can be found at The Role of Social Capital in Traffic Safety Citizenship or at https://cgscholar.com/bookstore/works/the-role-of-social-capital-in-traffic-safety-citizenship.

Citation- Finley, K., Otto, J. & Ward, N.J. (2018). The Role of Social Capital in Traffic Safety Citizenship. The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies 13:2, 29-41. doi:10.18848/2327-0071/CGP/v13i02/29-41.

NEW PROJECT: CHSC to Develop Safety Culture Training Modules

Transportation, law enforcement, and public health organizations are showing growing interest in incorporating the principles of traffic safety culture into their safety programs.  As a result, there is new demand for training materials on these topics for engineers, planners, emergency responders, public health professionals, and other practitioners.

Through this project, the Center for Health and Safety Culture will create three safety culture trainings for safety staff. The training modules will cover the basics of safety culture, organizational safety culture and road user safety culture.  CHSC will develop supporting materials, such as a facilitator guide, videos, interactive handouts, and assessment tools.  These modules will be made available to the Local Technical Assistance Programs (LTAPs) in each state, expanding access to culture-based training throughout the country.

As the project progresses, more information will be available on the CHSC website and the WTI project page.

NEW PROJECT: Helping DOTS Create a Strong Safety Culture

Many state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) have adopted the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) vision as part of their work towards the elimination of fatal and serious injury crashes.  These efforts are facilitated when a DOT has a strong, internal safety culture of its own.

The Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) has initiated a research program to grow a strong safety culture among a cohort of DOTs by providing tools and guidance to assess and transform organizational safety culture to support safety programs and achieve the TZD vision.  These resources will include:

  • A standard measurement tool to assess the safety culture of each participating DOT;
  • A set of relevant strategies and a process for transforming identified aspects of the safety culture of the DOT;
  • A range of support services to help guide and support implementation; and
  • An evaluation of the effectiveness of the implemented transformation process.

CHSC will work with each DOT to develop and implement individualized tools.  This project will launch the effort with the North Dakota Department of Transportation, the first DOT to join the cohort study.  CHSC will provide research services to NDDOT and administer the NDDOT Safety Culture Training which encourages new resources and novel strategies to work towards the elimination of fatal and serious injury crashes.

As the project progresses, more information will be available on the CHSC website and the WTI project page.

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: CHSC Welcomes Jubaer Ahmed

Close-up photo of Graduate Student Jubaer Ahmed
Graduate Student Jubaer Ahmed

Graduate students who are interested in the emerging field of traffic safety culture are finding intriguing research opportunities at the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC).  Recently, Jubaer Ahmed joined CHSC as a Graduate Student Research Assistant, where he is helping with a project to understand driver beliefs regarding impaired driving for the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission.  With his advisor (and CHSC Director) Nic Ward, Jubaer is also developing a dissertation topic on the relationship between emotional intelligence and traffic safety culture.

Currently working toward a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering, Jubaer holds a Master’s Degree in Logistics, Trade, and Transportation from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. He previously worked for Chevron in Bangladesh as a Health and Safety Specialist, which inspired his interest in safety research that will protect people from serious injuries and fatalities.

Jubaer has a packed schedule with his research at CHSC, his position as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, and his Ph.D. studies.  In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and exploring the national parks with his wife and three children.  After seeing snow for the first time last winter, he hopes to add skiing to his future activities!

CHSC Researchers Invited to Present at National Conferences

Annmarie McMahill from Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) will present at the National Prevention Network (NPN) Conference
Annmarie McMahill from Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) will present at the National Prevention Network (NPN) Conference
Two researchers from the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) will be traveling to major national conferences in the coming weeks to present their research on critical safety topics.

Annmarie McMahill will be presenting at the National Prevention Network (NPN) Conference on Tuesday, August 28, 2018. Her presentation titled, “Reducing Underage Drinking in Montana with Practical Tools that Develop the Social and Emotional Skills of Parents and Their Children,” involves a recent study showing Montana parents with higher social and emotional parenting skills were over six times more likely to engage in best-practices to reduce underage drinking. Her presentation will review social and emotional skills, how they are protective for youth, and a project creating practical tools for parents to reduce underage drinking and strengthen social and emotional skills.


Dr. Nic Ward will present at the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) Scientific Conference
Dr. Nic Ward will present at the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) Scientific Conference
Dr. Nic Ward will present at the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) Scientific Conference in Nashville, TN this October. The AAAM Scientific Conference will focus on the “Haddon Matrix,” which addresses pre-crash, crash, and post-crash related research, as well as topics that explore ways to eliminate road traffic injuries worldwide. Nic’s presentation is titled, “Preliminary data to identify cultural predictors of impaired driving from combining alcohol and cannabis.

Student Success: Two WTI students join Professional Staff

When WTI hires and mentors great students, it is a win-win for the organization and for aspiring young professionals. WTI’s two most recent hires both started as part-time student employees while pursuing their undergraduate degrees at Montana State University.

New staff members Dani Hess (Left) and Kelley Hall (Right) ride bikes outside WTI offices in Bozeman, MT
New staff members Dani Hess (Left) and Kelley Hall (Right) ride bikes outside WTI offices in Bozeman, MT

Kelley Hall has been part of the WTI family since 2014. She started as a Student Administrative Assistant, staffing the front desk and helping out in the Business Office.  She progressively added more responsibilities, including assistance on various projects.  After graduating from MSU with a B.A. in Political Science, she joined WTI as a Research Assistant. She currently serves as a Project Assistant in the Road Ecology program, focusing on the Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Data Coordination project for the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  In addition, she serves as a Research Associate for the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC), managing technology transfer activities and providing support to several projects on traffic safety culture, seat belt use, and underage drinking.

A native of Sheridan, Wyoming, Kelley moved to Bozeman in 2012 as an MSU freshman.  In addition to juggling her many responsibilities at WTI, she loves outdoor sports (both summer and winter) and photography.  Somehow, she has even found time to begin classes toward a Master’s in Public Administration!

Danielle (Dani) Hess was recently named a Project Assistant for mobility projects with the Small Urban and Rural Livability Center and the Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility.  Dani first joined WTI in February 2016 as a student assistant in the Mobility program, helping with community outreach for the Bozeman Commuter project and other local initiatives.  In early May, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Community Health (with Highest Honors!) from MSU and was promoted to a full-time WTI employee. She will now be able to continue her work on the Transportation Demand Management project with the City of Bozeman and the “pop-up” traffic calming projects on local roads.

Dani grew up in Helena, Montana, and has lived in Bozeman for the last five years.  When she is not encouraging people to walk, bike, or take the bus to work, you will probably find her enjoying the outdoors, most likely on her mountain bike.  This summer, she is looking forward to coaching kids with Bozeman Youth Cycling’s summer mountain biking program.