As road safety becomes an increasing concern for countries all over the world, the need for information exchange becomes an important method of studying and testing appropriate methods for reducing the number of injuries and fatalities on highways.
Over the past year, HSRC has participated in an information exchange with the Stichting Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Verkeersveiligheid (SWOV), Institute for Road Safety Research, based in Leidschendam, Netherlands. The two organizations entered an agreement in March 2007 to collaborate on highway safety research, as well as participate in an employee exchange program between the two institutions.
Through the employee exchange program with SWOV, Martine Reuerings, Ph.D., fulfilled a six-week turn with HSRC in mid-April 2007 as a visiting researcher. In response, Laura Sandt, program manager and researcher for HSRC and the Pedestrian & Bicycle Information Center, recently completed a six-week research residency at SWOV in Leidschendam, Netherlands.
"We're now able to have more of a first-hand account of research methods used in other countries and in other institutions," said David Harkey, director of HSRC. "Laura was a perfect candidate for this exchange program. She has demonstrated the ability to be adaptable to new situations, while remaining thorough and detailed in her research. We knew she would embrace the situation and make the most of the opportunity at SWOV."
While at SWOV, Laura reviewed the SUNflower project, which involved the development of an international benchmarking tool for evaluating road safety performance. She studied the project methodology and outcomes and examined relevant U.S. projects related to roadway safety evaluation, data sources and potential partners. This groundwork will hopefully lead to future research to adapt and apply the SUNflower methodology in the U.S. During her stay, she also took several facilities tours to document multi-modal transportation design and operations, and met with officials at SWOV and the Ministry of Transport.
"The exchange program helped familiarize me with the transportation safety research and the planning and policy tools available in the Netherlands and other European countries," said Laura. "To live and travel in the Netherlands enabled me to experience the roadway conditions on a daily basis and better understand how safety knowledge is put to use, what challenges still exist, and how we can assist each other in sharing best practices."
In addition to general research and the employee exchange, the two Centers continue to explore opportunities for collaborative projects to improve road safety in developing countries throughout the world.
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