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HSRC News Briefs

East Carolina University student awarded HSRC Scholarship

HSRC selected East Carolina University student Lauren Cochran as the recipient of the Center’s 2014 Megan Cornog Memorial Highway Safety Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded each year to a graduate student with an interest in a transportation safety-related area. Cochran is pursuing a master’s degree in occupational therapy. At ECU, the Department of Occupational Therapy named Cochran a Clinical Scholar, one of four students in her class expected to perform at the highest academic levels and complete a thesis.

Cochran works under the guidance of Dr. Anne Dickerson on studies to evaluate and improve the mobility of the older adult community. Her thesis will center on wayfinding, ways in which people orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place. Cochran’s study focuses specifically on driving performance of adults while wayfinding using electronic navigation systems versus printed directions. This work will serve as a pilot study and provide baseline data for future research by Dunlap and Associates, Inc. and Dr. Dickerson, which is sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is investigating the wayfinding performance of older adults who are either familiar or unfamiliar with electronic navigation systems.

“I’m enthusiastic about this research because there’s limited evidence regarding the influence of wayfinding methods on driving performance,” said Cochran. “By contributing to the body of knowledge on this subject, I can provide information which may be useful to occupational therapists, as well as other professionals who design navigation aids and driver education curriculum.”

Since establishing the scholarship in 2006, HSRC has awarded eight scholarships to graduate students in the UNC system. The scholarship is named in memory of a former HSRC staff member, Megan Cornog, who died Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010 at her home in Carrboro, N.C. after a courageous battle with cancer. After earning her master’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2009, Megan began her career working as a project coordinator for HSRC, focusing on pedestrian and bicycle issues.

Free educational tool prepares youth for a lifetime of safe bicycling

Preventing bicycle injuries requires a combination of approaches: engineering strategies to improve the physical environment, education and enforcement strategies to reduce vehicle speeds and increase driver awareness of bicyclists, and safety skills development. The Federal Highway Administration recently released an online educational tool, Bicycle Safer Journey, created by HSRC, which helps start this conversation with children and teens and prepare them for a lifetime of safe cycling.

Bicycle Safer Journey consists of three videos — one for each of three age groups: 5-9, 10-14 and 15-18 — accompanied by a quiz or discussion and an educator's resource library. It can be used as an introduction to a bicycle safety skills course or to augment a comprehensive curriculum. The age-appropriate videos, which are available in English and Spanish, address picking the safest places to bicycle and the importance of being alert.

Bicycle Safer Journey is the second part of FHWA's effort to better inform children and teens about safe non-motorized travel. FHWA released Pedestrian Safer Journey in 2013 to offer similar educational tools directed toward walking.

New "Walk Friendly Communities" recognized by PBIC

Three new communities were recognized by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center at HSRC and one city received a new designation in the seventh round of Walk Friendly Communities (WFC) recognitions. The “Walk Friendly” title means a city or town has been successful in working to improve a wide range of conditions related to walking, including safety, mobility, access and comfort. Congratulations to Boulder and Denver, Colo., and Charlottesville, Va., on their Gold Level commitment to improving walkability and pedestrian safety, and to Lakeland, Fla., on reaching Bronze Level!

“These four cities present a very interesting picture of how cities are striving to be more walkable,” said Carl Sundstrom, WFC program manager. “Charlottesville has made some great improvements since being named a Silver Level community in our first round of the program. At the same time, Boulder and Denver show how two cities separated by just 30 miles can take different approaches to being pedestrian friendly based on their unique challenges.”

Launched in October 2010, the WFC program is funded by FedEx and the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. There are now 47 Walk Friendly Communities across the nation. To date, Seattle, Wash., remains the only Platinum-level Walk Friendly Community.

Third annual National Bike to School Day: More bikes, more families, more fun!

Thousands of students and families across the country biked to school throughout the month of May as a part of the third annual National Bike to School Day. In all, 2,222 schools registered Bike to School Day events –a 30 percent increase from last year, setting yet another National Bike to School Day record.

Thanks to a new partnership with Schwinn’s Helmets on Heads program, the National Center for Safe Routes to School awarded ten schools a set of 10 bikes and 20 helmets as a part of this year’s festivities! To participate in the drawing, event organizers shared how they could use the bikes and helmets at their respective schools. A few inspiring ideas included: developing a school-wide bike share program with a “traveling journal” of stories and photos about the students’ bike rides; enhancing bicycling opportunities for children who are homeless or have disabilities; establishing a fitness club and developing bike safety trainings during physical education classes.

National Bike to School Day is based on the Walk to School Day model, which is held every October. For more information on bike and walk to school activities in the United States, and to register for Walk to School Day, visit www.walkbiketoschool.org.

HSRC publications and presentations

HSRC researchers and staff regularly publish findings in peer-reviewed journals and present research results at professional meetings and trade conferences in the fields of transportation, safety, research and public health. To view our most recent publications, click here.

HSRC in the News

The following is a highlight of recent media stories that include information and research from the Center. Web links to the following news stories are time sensitive, so some stories might not be accessible after the initial publication date without required registration. To access more archived news media, please visit www.hsrc.unc.edu/news_room/archived_news.cfm.

Web program may improve teen driver training
Jun 23, 2014

Watauga picked for 'Watch for Me NC'
Watauga Democrat
May 30, 2014

Parents, beware: These are the 100 deadliest days for teens
May 23, 2014

Memorial Day marks start of risky driving season for teens
May 23, 2014

Study: Teen drivers' passengers more dangerous than cell phones
April 25, 2014

Denver earns designation as 'Walk Friendly Community'
CBS4 Denver
April 24, 2014

Rowdy passengers pose greater risk to teen drivers than electronics
The Washington Post
April 23, 2014

Key to safe ride lies with passengers?
Business Standard
April 19, 2014

Highway Patrol targets teen driver safety during prom season
Asheville Citizen Times
April 17, 2014

Parents can do more to help kids learn to drive safely
April 10, 2014

Red light cameras may return to Fayetteville
News 14 Carolina
April 08, 2014

The University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center
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