Learning from better bicycle/vehicle crash reporting: Improving safety and infrastructure

A recent study published in the journal Injury Prevention makes a strong case for better bicycle/motor vehicle crash reporting as a way to improve bicycling safety. The quality of these crash reports currently varies widely, with helmet use and use of other protective equipment being the only data consistently recorded across all fifty states. Additionally, inadequate reporting that leaves out essential crash-site details results in a poor understanding of the causes and remedies for these crashes. This knowledge gap limits the ability of facility designers and transportation planners to respond with improved facilities for all road users.

Research shows the indirect economic benefit of public transportation

A study done by Cambridge Systematics for NCHRP Project 20-65 examined the indirect economic benefits to society of state investment in public transportation. The study found there are substantial cost savings to other government programs due to increased access to jobs, health care, and education. In many economic impact analyses, these indirect benefits are less well-documented than job creation through capital and operational spending, effects on local development patterns, and direct benefits to riders such as cost or time savings leading to increased productivity.

New critique identifies troubling errors in FHWA’s report on driver distraction from digital signs

The federal government began allowing the construction of digital billboards along interstate highways in 2007. In response to concerns over the potential effects on driver attention, FHWA conducted a study and found that while drivers may look at digital signs slightly more than they look at standard billboards, this was not associated with a decrease in drivers’ attention to the roadway or an increase in unacceptably long glances away from the roadway. However, an extensive, peer-reviewed, January 2015 critique has raised concerns about both the methodology and results of the FHWA study.

Researchers apply travel time reliability measures in modeling and project evaluation

Transportation planners and traffic analysts who typically measure road performance in terms of delay are beginning to incorporate measures of travel time reliability, which describe the hourly and daily variation in travel times due to congestion and transit delay. Two new reports prepared for the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) provide a better understanding of the value of travel time reliability, and also insight into what might be the most appropriate uses for such measures.

Head’s Up! New tools to improve warning signs

A new study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, asks the question, “Can re-designing pedestrian warning signs improve driver reaction time, reduce crash rates, and improve overall pedestrian safety?” The researchers found a significant difference between the reaction times of drivers viewing warning signs depicting a low-speed activity, such as walking, versus similar signs showing people appearing to run.

New research highlights the benefits of two-way communication for transit agencies

Transit agencies use social media such as Twitter and Facebook to communicate with stakeholders, but they may be missing out on some of the biggest potential advantages of these platforms by using them primarily for one-way communications. Agencies that engage in a dialogue with stakeholders by responding directly to transit-related questions, concerns, and comments can both improve their image and potentially leverage their relationship with patrons to improve the management of their systems.