Current UMass/UTC Initiative Research Projects
Development of a Transportation Safety Technical Assistance Center for Integrated Data Analysis

Dr. Michael A. Knodler Jr., Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Massachusetts/Amherst

John Collura, Co-Principal Investigator
Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Massachusetts/Amherst

In 2005, 158,084 motor vehicle crashes occurred along Massachusetts roadways; of these crashes 417 were fatal crashes and 41,285 were non-fatal injury crashes. The toll of crashes on Massachusetts roadways can be quantified not only in terms of injuries and fatalities but also in terms of cost. Although the various safety stakeholders have both independently and collectively established programs and countermeasures aimed at improving safety, there remains a need for an analytical support mechanism for transportation safety. The primary objective of this research is to establish a Transportation Safety – Technical Assistance Center (TS/TAC) with the intent of providing an analytical support system to enhance current approaches to transportation safety analyses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The established goal of the TS/TAC would be to provide a dynamic source for general data analysis and support, program evaluation for initiatives, access to unique transportation datasets (i.e. linked data), and, as appropriate, the collection of additional data. There is a direct and specific need for this research tool. To that point, the current transportation legislation, SAFETEA-LU, requires transportation agencies to be more data-driven in their approach to programming and to expand accountability and reporting. By all accounts, the Transportation Authorization Act of 2009 only increases the demand for funding to be tied directly to quantifiable performance measures. This emphasis translates into an increased demand for quality and accurate safety data and analyses to justify expenditures in the area of safety, a high priority area of the forthcoming legislation. The proposed TS/TAC would serve to meet the immediate data analysis needs of safety shareholders with the information provided being useful for problem identification, program evaluation, accountability reporting (including benefit/cost analysis), or analytical comparisons across the United States. In addition, this proposed research project strongly correlates with the established UMass – UTC theme of Improving Transportation Mobility and Safety with Innovative Technologies and Strategies.

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