New Project: Safety Improvements for Low-Volume Roads in Montana

Highway agencies systemically screen the road network to identify those sites that are expected to yield the greatest safety benefits from an investment of available improvement funds.  Traditional methods for identifying candidate locations tend to focus on well-travelled roadways that experience higher crash frequencies, despite the fact that many low-volume roads may have high levels of risk due to their geometric and roadside features (e.g. curves, low visibility). Further, many of the crashes on remote local roads, particularly those with lower severities, may go unreported.

On behalf of the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), WTI will develop a methodology for identifying and prioritizing hazardous locations on local roads at the network level that are deserving of safety improvement funds. Another objective is to engage Montana counties to work closely with MDT on the development of both the methodology and future safety improvement projects.  This project will provide MDT with guidance for its safety improvement programs, enhance its outreach efforts to local agencies, and support its Vision Zero safety initiatives.

Project Title and Webpage: Developing a Methodology for Implementing Safety Improvements on Low-Volume Roads in Montana

New Webinar Announced for May – Marketing Safety

Logo for National Center for Rural Road SafetyThe National Center for Rural Road Safety will host a free webinar on “Marketing Safety” on Thursday April 25 at 11 a.m. (Mountain Time).

This webinar will provide practical methods of effective communication with stakeholders, leadership, and the public, including five techniques for better communication and marketing, how to write engaging “teaser” messages, and how to use a communications brief to plan outreach activities.  This training is directed towards a very broad safety audience, such as law enforcement, planners, engineers, first responders, elected officials, public health, tourism agencies, and safety culture experts. To learn more and to register, check out the Marketing Safety webinar announcement.

New Publication: How effective are flashing beacons at crosswalks?

Pedestrians utilize rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFB) at busy road crossing.WTI Program Manager Ahmed Al-Kaisy is the lead author of “Motorists’ voluntary yielding of right of way at uncontrolled midblock crosswalks with rectangular rapid flashing beacons,” recently published in the Journal of Transportation Safety and Security. This article presents an investigation into the motorists’ voluntary yielding behavior to bicycles and pedestrians. Two study sites in the state of Montana with light emitting diode (LED) rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFB) warning devices were used in this investigation.

 

Citation: Ahmed Al-Kaisy, Guilherme T. Miyake, Joey Staszcuk & Danielle Scharf (2018) Motorists’ voluntary yielding of right of way at uncontrolled midblock crosswalks with rectangular rapid flashing beacons, Journal of Transportation Safety & Security, 10:4, 303-317, DOI: 10.1080/19439962.2016.1267827

TRB – The Show Must Go On

Natalie Villwock-Witte (far left) presenting from a lecturn at a panel discussion.
Natalie Villwock-Witte presents at TRB Annual Meeting

WTI researchers braved heavy snow, transit closures, and the partial government shutdown to attend the 2019 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. in January.  Nonetheless, they had a busy week with many productive opportunities to share their research and collaborate with peers.

A few highlights include:

  • WTI Director Steve Albert received a certificate of appreciation from the TRB Committee on Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands in recognition of his 12 years of leadership on committee activities.
  • Three Fellows from the Public Lands Transportation Fellows program had the opportunity to present posters highlighting their current projects:
    • Corinne Jachelski presented on trail, bicycle, and other alternative transportation upgrades underway at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Colorado.
    • Dylan Corbin’s poster highlighted his efforts to create a transportation plan that will expand public transportation and alternative transportation access to four sites within the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
    • Vince Ziols presented on the bicycle network, shuttle services, and water taxis that are enhancing regional access to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.
Fellows Corinne Jachelski, Vince Ziols and Dylan Corbin stand in front of their research posters at TRB poster session.
Fellows Corinne Jachelski, Vince Ziols and Dylan Corbin
  • Workshop Participants seated at tables view a presentation slide called "Categories for Rural Critical Needs"
    Workshop on Rural Research Roadmap project

    Jaime Sullivan’s workshop on the NCHRP Rural Research Roadmap project attracted an audience of more than 70 attendees interested in her progress report on the identification of the most critical research needs related to improving rural transportation. More than 500 research needs displayed on 20 posters inspired a lively discussion.

 

  • Karalyn Clouser and Zach Becker, our UTC Students of the Year (read their profiles here), were honored at a banquet during the opening weekend of the TRB meeting. The weather and transportation delays prevented Zach from attending, but Steve Albert and David Kack were on hand to cheer on Karalyn when she received her award.

 

David Kack, Karalyn Clouser, and Steve Albert

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.”

WTI Presents Implementation Tools and Solutions at NRITS Conference

Steve Albert (seated far right on dais) at the opening session of NRITS
Steve Albert (far right on dais) at the opening session of NRITS

WTI Researchers traveled to Fort McDowell, Arizona last week for the National Rural Intelligent Transportation Systems Conference and Exhibit, held in conjunction with the 25th Anniversary of ITS Arizona, which focused on the theme of “Creating ITS Implementation Solutions for All Communities.”

WTI helped launch NRITS more than 25 years ago, and staff members continue to play a leading role by sharing their expertise at the annual forum. WTI Director Steve Albert opened the conference at the plenary session, presenting a history of NRITS and a eulogy for longtime NRITS champion, Bill Legg of Washington DOT.  Later in the conference, Steve led the “Roundtable on Rural ITS,” which offered an overview of the challenges and opportunities facing rural areas interested in developing and implementing new transportation technologies.  At the workshop on “Utilizing ITS for Rural Road Safety,” Natalie Villwock-Witte presented the Rural ITS Toolkit, which was recently updated by WTI staff through the National Center for Rural Road Safety. David Kack was a speaker at the “Multimodal Transportation Technology” workshop, where he presented on the Wyoming Intercity Bus Study, which provides a model for finding and filling transit gaps in rural areas, and Doug Galarus spoke at the “Rural ITS Weather Applications” workshop, where he presented on the Aviation Weather Information (AWI) system developed for the California Department of Transportation.

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.