Dr. Michael Knodler Jr. announced that the University of Massachusetts Traffic Safety Research Program (UMassSafe) has recently been awarded four momentous new research projects, all related to traffic safety and totaling nearly $790,000 in funding. Knodler is the UMassSafe principal investigator and the director of the University of Massachusetts Transportation Center, which houses UMassSafe.
“Together, these grants have the potential to improve roadway safety programming substantially,” said Dr. Knodler. “By tackling roadway safety from multi-pronged approaches, Massachusetts will be better equipped to prevent crashes and, most importantly, save lives, which has always been the bottom line goal here at UMassSafe.”
Robin Riessman, director and co-principal investigator of UMassSafe, added that “It is essential that the state agencies which work on the frontline of roadway safety are equipped with the best data and highest quality tools possible so that safety programming remains on the cutting edge. These projects will help ensure these agencies have the tools necessary to move us toward our goal of zero roadway deaths.”
UMassSafe is a multidisciplinary traffic safety research program within the College of Engineering. As the researchers at UMassSafe explained their mission, “We seek to reduce the frequency and severity of crashes through the rigorous examination of safety related data – both traditional and nontraditional – to better understand crashes, driver behavior, and related factors.”
The first of the four grants is titled “Crash E-Manual Phase Two: Further Improvements to Data Quality Control Program by Providing Crash Reporting Resources for Law Enforcement.” Expanding upon a previous grant to build the web-based Massachusetts Law Enforcement Crash Report E-Manual and associated crash data dictionary, this project will add additional content, features, and functionality, as well as further promote its use. The project is sponsored by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds, totaling $184,898.
Another grant, which supports the “Crash Data Accepted with Warning Project - Part II” project, is sponsored by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) and amounts to $133,899. The main purpose of this project is to provide the RMV’s Law Enforcement Liaison with the tools and assistance necessary for working with law enforcement to improve police crash report accuracy and completeness.
A third project, called “Updating and Expanding Law Enforcement Crash Report Training Towards Improved Crash Data Quality,” amounts to $164,810, as granted by the Massachusetts Department of State Police. Training on crash reporting will be created for new police cadets and established troopers on crash investigation and reporting. This project improves crash data which is used by state agencies to prevent future crashes.
The final project, “Promoting Safety, Compliance, and Business: Advancing Best Practices for Technology Applications to Prevent Commercial Vehicle Crashes,” is sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation with a budget of $306,901. UMassSafe will conduct a Northeast Regional Summit promoting the development, sharing, and deployment of innovative practices and safety technologies. The benefits of a strong safety culture and the importance of maintaining effective partnerships will be two other focal points of the summit. Additionally, a collection of best-practice resources and activities will be added to the Commercial Vehicle-Safety Technical Assistance Center, an online center for supporting and augmenting commercial vehicle safety. (October 2020)