The UNC Highway Safety Research Center was founded during a period of change in the country regarding highway safety and injury prevention issues. It was formed by the North Carolina State Legislature in 1965 during an era of increased calls for broadening highway safety to include emphasis on vehicle safety and forgiving highways.

Established during former Governor Dan K. Moore's tenure, the Center began operations in 1966 under the direction of Dr. B.J. Campbell. At Moore's urging, it was designated part of the North Carolina University System. Located on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus, the Center is overseen by the Vice President for Research for the North Carolina University System and the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.

Today's HSRC research stretches across multiple disciplines, from social and behavioral sciences to engineering and planning, and addresses many of the new challenging concerns of the North Carolina and American public. Among other things, HSRC researchers are exploring ways of making roads safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, researching the effects of aging on driver performance, studying how driver distractions such as cell phone use affect transportation safety, researching how fatigue and sleep-deprivation affect driver performance, and examining how changes in roadway design and traffic operations can make travel safer.

Highway safety has come a long way in the years since HSRC was established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1965. In terms of miles driven, motor-vehicle related deaths in the U.S. are only one-third as likely as they were 30 years ago. View some of the contributions to highway safety the Center has made through its research and programs.