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The Year in Transportation Research

The Year in Transportation Research

The New Year is an occasion synonymous with hope —an opportunity to take the lessons of the past and apply them to the future. And there is no better time than the holiday season to take a moment and reflect on what was accomplished over the past 12 months before turning the page and focusing on the work that needs to be done in 2016. As someone who has led a research-focused organization for nearly five years, I have come to recognize the true value and versatility of transferable lessons.

One moment that stands out for me is when I took part in the White House summit earlier this month on transportation’s role in promoting the health of pollinators, the animals —birds, bees, etc.— that assist plants: “Transportation Leaders’ Summit: Restoring the Nation’s Pollinator Habitat.”  The summit was coordinated by President Obama’s Pollinator Health Task Force, and although the summit addressed a nationally significant issue you might think would be far afield of transportation, it demonstrated the breadth of issues that transportation assets and infrastructure can impact. It helped cement both Administration and bipartisan Congressional support for improving pollinator habitat on transportation assets, and provided a truly remarkable window of opportunity to advance beneficial, cost-effective land-management practices.

At RAILtec
At UIUC/RailTEC

Research pays off for taxpayers when it leads to enduring, innovative solutions and real progress —when it ensures that the problems of today aren’t left for the next generation to solve.  This year the U.S. Department of Transportation made tremendous progress in advancing safety, mobility, and environmental sustainability through new opportunities for cooperative transportation research and innovation:

  • Secretary Foxx kicked-off the Smart City Challenge, a nationwide competition which will make up to $50 million available for the winning city to test pioneering Intelligent Transportation Systems technologies, including automated vehicles;
  • We launched the Connected Vehicle Pilots Initiative in September at three competitively selected sites, which will provide up to $42 million for the implementation of cutting-edge connected vehicle applications, including vehicle automation;
  • Our Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and Volpe National Transportation Systems Center provided critical data and outreach for the Secretary’s draft framework for the future, Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices 2045a broad, data-driven analysis outlining the challenges and choices facing our transportation system in the years ahead; and  
  • DOT-supported University Transportation Centers, like the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center at UIUC, across the nation continued to educate the next generation of transportation professionals through world-class research and facilities.

Safety research

Research, like the start of a new year, offers the promise of greater clarity —it provides a vantage point for effective decision-making and solutions to problems like pollinator health and transportation land use. It can help us understand how we can improve the way we get around, and how we can meet the freight challenge created by a growing population.

America’s investment in transportation research is an investment in a better future, one shaped by ideas and solutions that provide enduring benefits.


Greg Winfree is the U.S. Department of Transportation's Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology.

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Comments

Why do you show a Ladder crosswalk instead of a BAR crosswalk? The BAR is used in NYC, many states, and most of the rest of the world. The Ladder, and Z crosswalks, were designed for the Pedestrian. The BAR crosswalk is more easily seen by the driver. Healthy New Year!

I belieebv that mobile apps can be helpful but are very dangerous if people are using them while they are walking. They can walk into the street and get hit by a car or sikmply trip an injure themselves. Also milbe apps are rather dangerous when used in a car since they are in smart phones the police will give you a fine if you are distracted by use of the phone. The capaibliteis needed must be built-in to a vehicle and be more cognitive. This means that the systems must for example verbally advise and not require the user to look at a screen. This verbal interaction is also for voice recognition. The user should not have to touch their smart phone to make changes in selections. In the diagram indicating the sue of smart phones this is particularly dangerous since for example with automous vehicles will not have a driver and will not be able to interact with others in the same way only with other machines. The humans will be at a major disadvantage since they can not react as fast a the machines. I expect there will be more injuries in thinking that smart phones will solve the problems in transportation systems unless many new dimentions are considered related to safety and are not available today.
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