Safe-D: Safety through Disruption

Diversity Equity and Inclusion

The following projects either directly or indirectly assist in making the lives better for BIPOC, individuals with disabilities, rural communities, low-SES communities, and vulnerable populations (elderly, children, etc.).


Evaluating the Safe Routes to School (SR2S) transportation program in socially vulnerable communities in San Diego County, California

Abstract Frequent vehicle collisions involving pedestrians or bicyclists indicate that there are opportunities to improve safe walking or biking. Concerns for child safety are among the strongest impediments to children walking or biking to school, but for some, walking or bicycling to school is a necessity due to financial or other circumstances. In fact, walking or biking to school is more than twice as common among students from low-income households than students from higher income households. Creating safe routes is one key mechanism to achieve social equity goals by providing safe opportunities to walk and bike regardless of a community’s Evaluating the Safe Routes to School (SR2S) transportation program in socially vulnerable communities in San Diego County, California

Critical Areas in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Safety: Point of Sale and Crash Reporting

Abstract Automated vehicle technologies vary from simple alerts to partially automated driving tasks that are increasingly available in today’s vehicles. Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) seek to alert a driver to critical events (e.g., forward collision warning) or even intervene (e.g., emergency braking, lane-keeping steering) to prevent crashes. These technologies, however, are not available equally across the passenger vehicle fleet, nor is there standardization in how their uses and limitations are marketed to potential buyers or demonstrated at point of sale, including by increasingly popular online “dealerships” like Vroom and Carvana. The proliferation of ADAS has also outpaced crash scene Critical Areas in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Safety: Point of Sale and Crash Reporting

Building Equitable Safe Streets for All: Data-Driven Approach and Computational Tools

Abstract Roadway safety improvement in low-income and ethnically diverse communities in the United States has long been a major concern. This research is defined to addresses this issue by developing a data-driven approach and computational tools to quantify the equity issues in roadway safety. Particularly, we explore two important research questions: (1) What is the relationship between road infrastructure and communities’ socioeconomic and demographic characteristics and how can it be associated with traffic safety in low-income, ethnically diverse communities? and (2) What type of driver behaviors and characteristics affect the crash risks in underserved communities? This study employs data from Building Equitable Safe Streets for All: Data-Driven Approach and Computational Tools

Evaluating Emotion Regulation Techniques for Supporting Driving Safety and Performance

Abstract Humans operating motor vehicles are often required to engage in decision-making while under substantial cognitive loads imposed by the driving environment itself. Experiencing elevated emotions can influence driver decision-making in a way that increases the risk to the safety of the driver and system performance. Emotion regulation techniques (ERTs) can be used to improve driving safety and performance; however, these techniques can only be effective in an operational driving context if they impose minimal additional cognitive loading on the driver, thus avoiding issues with distraction and the increased workload that could further impact decision making, driving performance, and safety. Evaluating Emotion Regulation Techniques for Supporting Driving Safety and Performance

Curb Management Practices and Effectiveness in Improving Safety

Abstract Curbside access has been a growing concern in cities over the last decade as on-demand passenger or goods transportation services have proliferated. Increased activity at key loading and unloading points may increase the risk of crashes and collisions between vehicles or with nearby active travelers as vehicles maneuver to access curbside spaces and others maneuver around them. This research project investigated linkages between curb management practices and safety among travelers as vehicles navigate to and from designated curb zones within a multimodal urban environment. The project analyzed the effectiveness of curb management practices in improving safety through reduced collisions Curb Management Practices and Effectiveness in Improving Safety

Evaluation Tools for Automated Shuttle Transit Readiness of the Area

Abstract This project aims to develop a general evaluation protocol for transit readiness in the area for Automated shuttle implementation. Using the data gathered from the EasyMile shuttle implemented in Fairfax County, Virginia, the research team will perform risk assessments and safety analysis for the automated shuttle to understand the risks associated with the interactions between the automated shuttle and other road users, roadway infrastructure, and traffic conditions. Protocols for future deployment planning and evaluation of pilot programs will be developed by the research team based on the data analysis results. The project is related to transportation safety as it Evaluation Tools for Automated Shuttle Transit Readiness of the Area

Exploring the Safety Impacts of the Older Population’s Access to Automated Vehicles and Telemedicine: A Real-World Experiment in Small and Rural Communities (ENDEAVRide)

Abstract In fall 2020, a novel autonomous-vehicle (AV) service named ENDEAVRide will start pilot testing in Nolanville, a typical rural town in central Texas. The AV will serve as a taxicab and a mobile telemedicine portal. This project marks the first attempt to conduct a real-world assessment of AV’s potential safety impacts as a disruptive technology to offer older adults a pathway to continued independent mobility in underserved communities. Collaborating with industry partners, we will explore how older adults (60+) can more safely transit and get access to health care with a “2-in-1” (taxi + telemedicine) service delivered via autonomous Exploring the Safety Impacts of the Older Population’s Access to Automated Vehicles and Telemedicine: A Real-World Experiment in Small and Rural Communities (ENDEAVRide)

Cooperative Perception of Connected Vehicles for Safety

Abstract This project develops vision-based cooperative perception and accident (crash) avoidance trajectory plans in dynamic environments for two connected vehicles in which the ego vehicle would face a potentially unseen hazard ahead but could receive safety-critical information from a vehicle in front and estimate/predict the trajectory of the potential hazard. There are several challenging technical problems in this V2V and V2X communications environment, aside from the communication itself. Among them are the accurate establishment of the relative position of the involved vehicles and their collective situation relative to the target (which could be a vulnerable road user or another vehicle); Cooperative Perception of Connected Vehicles for Safety

A Data Driven Approach to the Development and Evaluation of Acoustic Electric Vehicle Alerting Systems for Vision Impaired Pedestrians

Abstract The steady increase of electric vehicles (EVs) has led to safety concerns for vulnerable populations. EVs produce considerably less noise compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, especially at low speeds. Although pedestrians across all demographics are at risk, visually impaired pedestrians face significantly greater disadvantages in environments where ambient noise levels are high in relation to EV noise output. A major reason for this is because these pedestrians depend on auditory cues when making life-threatening decisions, such as crossing complex intersections or walking through city streets. In response to this safety concern, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration A Data Driven Approach to the Development and Evaluation of Acoustic Electric Vehicle Alerting Systems for Vision Impaired Pedestrians

Using Health Behavior Theory and Relative Risk Information to Increase and Inform Use of Alternative Transportation

Abstract COVID-19 has led to a reduction in vehicle miles traveled by motorized vehicles. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there may a shift to non-motorized modes. Getting more of the Virginia Tech community (including student, faculty, and staff) to walk, use the bus, carpool or ride bicycles for alternative transportation to decrease dependency on vehicle use and traffic around the VT campus and increase overall safety is a goal of the VT Alternative Transportation Department. With COVID-19 impacting carpools and the bus system due to limited capacity and possible fear of public transportation, and fear of injury related to alternative transportation Using Health Behavior Theory and Relative Risk Information to Increase and Inform Use of Alternative Transportation

Simulation-based approach to investigate the electric scooter rider protection during traffic accidents. A step forward for safer e-scooters and for standardized national safety policies

Abstract The increased popularity of rideshare scooters was recently observed due to their availability, accessibility, and low cost. Benefits to their use include reduced traffic congestion and more environmentally friendly alternative to motor vehicles. However, there are some concerns regarding the safety of riders and the impacts these vehicles have on those who share roads and sidewalks with them (e.g. 2.4 to 18 times more people per trip are injured on e-scooter sharing than on bicycle sharing). While non-collision-induced falls seem to be the main cause of scooter injuries (~60-80%), the collisions with vehicles and pedestrians represent the causes of Simulation-based approach to investigate the electric scooter rider protection during traffic accidents. A step forward for safer e-scooters and for standardized national safety policies

Automated Shuttles and Buses for All Users

Abstract Individuals using wheelchairs and those with limited or no sight face extra safety issues in the use of public transit, as well as personal vehicles, including getting to and from a bus or shuttle stop, getting on and off a vehicle, and being secure while riding in a vehicle. The demonstrations of automated shuttles and buses have included little or no participation by the disabled community. This project will address that gap by introducing individuals with disabilities to an automated shuttle in Arlington and a Smart Intersection in College Station, assessing their safety perception before and after riding in Automated Shuttles and Buses for All Users

Evaluation of transportation safety against flooding in disadvantaged communities

  Abstract The goal of the proposed project is to systematically extract traffic safety information from multiple complex sources of flood monitoring such as remote sensing technologies, flow gages, and weather stations, which can support informed planning for transportation safety against flooding in future smart cities. Flooding poses a significant hazard to the moving vehicles and causes traffic disruption by placing water flow in the transportation network, resulting in sweeping vehicles away, injuries and loss of life of passengers. While different methods to continuously monitor flooding are available in the field of flood management, the collected data is too complex Evaluation of transportation safety against flooding in disadvantaged communities

Micromobility Safety Regulation: Municipal Best Practices Review

  Abstract As rented and shared micromobility options, e-scooters are new and potentially transformative app-based modes that promise to alleviate first mile/last mile mobility issues, congestion, and more. Yet their safe deployment has not yet been systematically understood or standardized by users, cities, or operators. As of December 2019, 1,500 people had been injured and 8 killed in e-scooter crashes. These devices are not yet regulated by a federal agency like the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and their use is not uniformly regulated at the municipal level. Some jurisdictions are imposing Micromobility Safety Regulation: Municipal Best Practices Review

Quantifying the Benefits and Harms of Connected and Automated Vehicle Technologies to Public Health and Equity

Automated vehicle technologies (AV) have the potential to become one of the most highly disruptive technological applications of our century.

Delving into Safety Considerations of E Scooters: A Case Study of Austin, Texas

This case-study project will provide an in-depth examination of e-scooter safety considerations through a data-driven approach using Austin as the proposed study site.

Examining Senior Drivers’ Adaptation to Mixed-Level Automated Vehicles: A Naturalistic Approach – Phase II Analysis of the Naturalistic Driving Data

This project will analyze these already-collected NDS data to evaluate the safety and mobility benefits of automated vehicle technologies AVT for senior drivers. ​​​​

Data Fusion for Non-Motorized Safety Analysis

This project will develop a framework which will bring together traditional and emerging data sources, and will be developed in such a way that it can be up- or down-scaled based on the available data sources of a study area. The exposure estimation output will then be used for crash assessment tailored to the needs of the study area.

Safety Perceptions of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) by the Blind and Visually Impaired (BVI)

This project will identify how the BVI community perceives the safety of TNCs relative to other travel modes, and how the BVI community utilizes TNCs for safe mobility.

Older Drivers and Transportation Network Companies: Investigating Opportunities for Increased Safety and Improved Mobility

This project will assess the potential of TNCs to enhance safety by decreasing the number of older drivers on the roadways while increasing their mobility options.

K-12 STEM Program: Exploring the Science of Retroreflectivity

This educational development project will take previously-devloped in-class activities that show real-world applications, link them to academic concepts and standards, and create curriculum and associated materials that can be used by teachers and other professionals across the nation.

Factors Surrounding Child Seat Usage in Ride-Share Services

This project will conduct an analysis of the current state of child passengers and child safety seat use in ride-sourced vehicles along with other more traditional sources of transit such as taxicabs.