When David Harkey initially began his classes in civil engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, he had no idea that his life would one day be dedicated to the pursuit of safer highways. He was planning on a career as a structural engineer. During his senior year, he was taking a class under former HSRC Director Dr. Doug Robertson, who encouraged him to pursue a career in transportation engineering. This career path has led him all over the world, conducting research studies from the rural roads of Alabama to the roundabouts of Australia and finally, to Chapel Hill, where he will settle in as the Center’s fourth director since its establishment in 1965.
Throughout his 14 years with HSRC, Harkey has served as the principal investigator on several studies for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as well as the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. He has been working to improve highway safety through applied research for all modes of surface transportation – cars, large trucks, pedestrians and bicyclists. Many of his studies have produced results for policy makers, while others have resulted in tools and software for practitioners.
Harkey currently serves as the principal investigator on the FHWA Highway Safety Information System as well as NCHRP projects related to the development of accident modification factors and improved guidance for the installation and operation of accessible pedestrian signals for the visually impaired.
When asked what he envisions for the future of HSRC, Harkey responded, “I plan to build upon the strong reputation HSRC has developed over the past 40 years and expand the Center to do more to serve the state, to help meet national goals that have been set to reduce fatalities on our roadways and to look for opportunities internationally where we can have an impact on global road safety.”
Harkey has already begun international collaboration through his efforts to establish a joint international research consortium and to launch a staff exchange program with the Institute for Road Safety Research in The Netherlands.
Said Vice Chancellor of Research and Economic Development Tony Waldrop, “This appointment is based upon the unanimous recommendation of the search committee as well as my own belief that David is extremely well qualified for this important position.”
Harkey has been serving as HSRC’s interim director during the selection process, and previously acted as deputy director of the Center. Prior to his arrival at the Center in 1993, Harkey served as director of the traffic engineering and safety division of The Scientex Corporation.
The staff of HSRC welcomes Harkey to his new role and looks forward to the future of the Center under his leadership.
The University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center
730 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Suite 300 | Campus Box 3430 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3430
Phone: 919.962.2203 | Fax: 919.962.8710