Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in transportation not only are important to the current administration (as described in the American Jobs Plan) and society at large but are also equally important to Safe-D. Projects funded by Safe-D that help to combat inequities in transportation include a study to look into the sound levels of electric vehicles to reduce the risk for visually impaired pedestrians, a study to determine the effects of advanced driver assistance systems on seniors’ driving performance and mobility, and a study to examine the safety gaps for individuals with disabilities riding automated shuttles. More DEI in transportation projects can be found here. Safe-D researchers have also engaged in inclusive outreach activities with underrepresented groups. These activities have included presenting the smart vest developed from one project to 45 female high school students from Buchanan County, VA, interested in engineering and the creation of STEM activities for undergraduate engineering students. As our program ends, Safe-D intends to allocate some of the remaining funding to additional DEI in transportation projects, specifically those that address the lack of sufficient diversity, equity, and inclusion in transportation
Safe-D believes that it is important to pursue research initiatives that not only identify roadblocks in DEI in transportation but also to develop real-world, common-sense solutions to these issues. In that light, Safe-D is committed to supporting projects that foster DEI in transportation. Safe-D intends to allocate some of the remaining funding to additional DEI in Transportation-related projects, specifically projects that help address the lack of sufficient diversity, equity, and inclusion in transportation.
Diversity in transportation refers to considering the distinguishable and indistinguishable differences between individuals based on their ethnicity, social-economic status, sex/gender, age, disabilities, religion, etc., and the ways in which they experience systemic disadvantages or advantages and obstacles to opportunities and resources in transportation including the transportation workforce. A better understanding of these issues will aid in providing better transportation services to these groups.
It has been over 60 years since the Montgomery bus boycott acted as a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement and the changes it fought for, including equity in transportation. However, far too many cities and rural communities in our nation still suffer from inequities in transportation. Most of the disparities in transportation are still experienced by people of color and low-income individuals. Equity in transportation refers to evaluating the inequitable conditions that exist in public and private transportation services. This evaluation needs to result in actionable best practices that eliminate the unfair treatment of historically underrepresented groups who have not had access to equitable transportation. In addition, it is imperative that limited resources are reallocated to ensure that everyone receives fair treatment and has equal access to essential transportation services.
Inclusion in transportation refers to valuing the perspectives, amplifying the voices, and creating a safe and thriving environment for historically underrepresented groups who experience transportation roadblocks based on their ethnicity, social-economic status, sex/gender, age, disabilities, religion, or other characteristics. Determining the obstacles that are impeding individuals from adding their input in the transportation planning decisions that directly affect them, such as the development of new transit routes, is important in bridging the gap to provide inclusion for all.