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HSRC News Briefs

HSRC seeking applications for $1000 scholarship

The UNC Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC) is seeking scholarship applications from graduate students with an interest in the field of highway safety.

The $1,000 scholarship is available to a full-time graduate student with an interest in transportation safety who will be enrolled in the fall of 2009 at any of the University of North Carolina campuses. Candidates will be evaluated based on academic performance, extracurricular and professional activities and work experience. Applicants will also be asked to explain how their field of study could be used to prevent motor-vehicle-related deaths and injuries.

The purpose of the Highway Safety Research Center Scholarship is to foster the education and professional development of graduate students with an interest in transportation safety-related areas, including, but not limited to, engineering, driver behavior, planning, public health and environment.

HSRC awarded the 2008 scholarship in July to Kathryn Martin, a graduate student at UNC Chapel Hill studying in the School of Public Health. Her dissertation research is on the influence of community resources on North Carolinians' health-related quality of life and functional health status, including accessibility and availability of public transportation for senior citizens in North Carolina.

The deadline for applications is April 1, 2009.

For more information on the HSRC Scholarship and to download an application, please visit http://www.hsrc.unc.edu/scholarship.

The scholarship recipient will be announced in June 2009.

NCSRTS awards 2008 James L. Oberstar Award

The National Center for Safe Routes to School, one of HSRC's national-level information clearinghouses, announced that Bear Creek Elementary School in Boulder, Colorado, is the recipient of the 2008 James L. Oberstar Award. The school's Safe Routes to School program involves 70 percent of students in walking and bicycling activities throughout the year.

A City of Boulder study conducted during the first year of the school’s Car-Free Commute program (2007–2008) showed a 36 percent reduction in cars and corresponding traffic congestion. During the program's second year, students accrued 4,800 miles from 6,600 Car-Free Commute trips in a single month (September 2008).

Bear Creek Elementary School, one of the first in the country to have walking school buses throughout the school year, keeps track of students' travel through monthly tallies. Kent Cruger, principal at Bear Creek Elementary, challenges students daily with his own examples of car-free travel.

"I am extremely proud of the Safe Routes to School program at Bear Creek Elementary," says Congressman James L. Oberstar, after whom the award is named. "The students, parents, faculty, and staff have given us an outstanding example of how we can change the lifestyle habits of an entire generation. I heartily congratulate the Bear Creek community for its achievements and would like to see it become a model for Safe Routes to School programs across the country."

The award is named for Congressman Oberstar (D-MN) to honor his dedication to American school children as the pioneer for the National Safe Routes to School Program. Oberstar, current Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, sponsored the Safe Routes to School legislation that strives to create safe settings to enable more parents and children to walk and bicycle to school.

For more information, please visit http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/news_room/oberstar_award.

2008 HSRC Annual Report released

The UNC Highway Safety Research Center has released its 2008 Annual Report. The report covers the program areas and new initiatives the Center embarked upon for the 2008 fiscal year (July 1, 2007 – June 30, 2008).

During this time, the Center took on some significant milestones in highway safety, including the first-ever evaluation of a state law banning cell phone use among teenage drivers, the completion of an international research exchange that was the first of its kind for HSRC, and the conclusion of a nearly decade-long study on pedestrian safety in large, urban environments.

To download the report, please visit http://www.hsrc.unc.edu/news_room/annual_reports.cfm.

HSRC research assistant retires

HSRC Statistical Research Assistant Charles Hamlett, who has worked on and off for the Center since 1997, retired in January 2009. Referred to as a "jack of all trades" by co-workers, Charles worked on a variety of highway safety-related projects during his tenure with HSRC. He was responsible for coding approximately 15,000 crash reports for inclusion in the Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Analysis Tool (PBCAT). His work has also included traveling across the country for data observation. Hamlett received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from N.C. State University. Charles has been a real asset to the Center and will be hard to replace. We wish him all the best in his retirement.

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