At HSRC, evidence-based solutions for addressing road safety issues are always in style. Our researchers spend months, years and even entire careers gathering and evaluating data to understand the extent and root of problems; developing, implementing and evaluating interventions; and disseminating results to our peers, policy makers, practitioners and the traveling public. It’s critical that this work is based on sound research principles in order to maximize the return on research investment, and, more importantly, to create a transportation system that minimizes harm using the most effective and efficient means possible.
Over our 50 years of work, sound research at HSRC can be directly correlated with saving lives. Our research results include more young drivers getting experience behind the wheel as they become fully licensed to drive; more workers completing safe daily commutes along our highways that have been designed with proven interventions like rumble strips and roundabouts; and more parents armed with the correct information they need to keep their children properly restrained while riding in passenger vehicles.
In the past two years, we have seen fatalities in the U.S. begin a rapid rise after years of decreases following the great recession. It’s a wake-up call for all of us in the road safety business that our work is not done. In fact, we need to refocus our efforts, and that includes our applied research to address never-solved legacy issues, such as speeding and driving while impaired, and growing issues including distraction. We need to increase our investment in research, understanding that sound research saves lives every day and in every community. Even in today’s climate of political, social and media uncertainty, that is a message that cannot be brushed aside.
We have a responsibility as road safety professionals to work with all policy makers and practitioners — and the public — to convince them of the value of evidence-based research. It may not sound sexy, but the life-saving results it can produce are. Keeping this in mind – no matter what else is going on in the world – will allow us to continue the important mission of improving road safety for generations to come.
Directions is a free, online publication of the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center. No permission is needed to reprint from articles, but attribution is requested. Sign up to receive Directions here.
Executive Editor: Caroline Mozingo
Managing Editor: Jennifer
Graphic Designer: Graham Russell