Challenge of highway safety, public health topic of expert's talk

News Release

April 11, 2006

CHAPEL HILL — Dr. Lindsay Griffin, an experimental psychologist whose career has focused on improving highway safety, will give a lecture on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus at 3 p.m. Monday (April 17).

The talk, "Highway Safety, Public Health and Human Behavior," will be held at the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Auditorium on the ground floor of the Michael Hooker Research Center. This building is located near the intersection of Columbia and Pittsboro streets. A reception will follow the free public event.

Griffin's lecture will address both the accomplishments and continuing challenges of highway safety and public health. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics indicate that significant progress has been made in highway safety nationwide in recent decades: In 1936, 12.7 people were killed per hundred million vehicle miles traveled; by 2004, this rate had been reduced to 1.44 deaths.

Motor-vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 34 years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Griffin is a highway safety consultant and an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston and the Texas A&M University School of Rural Public Health in College Station. He is the former director of the Center for Transportation Safety at the Texas Transportation Institute.

"Dr. Griffin began his prestigious career at the UNC Highway Safety Research Center over 30 years ago," said David Harkey, the Highway Safety Research Center's interim director. "Since that time, he has helped shape the field of transportation safety. We're pleased to welcome him back for this intriguing discussion."

Griffin also is a UNC alumnus, earning a bachelor's degree in psychology and a doctorate in experimental psychology from the university.

The lecture is held annually in memory of Dr. Patricia F. Waller, a UNC professor who founded the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center and was a pioneer in injury control. She worked for nearly two decades as a researcher at the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, where she developed the concept for graduated licensing that would become adopted nationwide.

The Waller lecture is sponsored jointly by the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center, the UNC Highway Safety Research Center and the UNC department of psychology, based in the College of Arts and Sciences.

"Dr. Waller was a major force in the field on injury prevention and founding director of the UNC injury center. We are pleased to honor her annually with this lecture. This year's speaker, also a leader in the field of traffic safety, was a colleague of Dr. Waller for many years and will return to UNC - his alma mater," said Dr. Carol Runyan, director of the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center and a professor of health behavior and health education at UNC's School of Public Health.

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UNC Injury Prevention Research Center contact: Karen Demby, (919) 843-3530 or

UNC Highway Safety Research Center contact: Katy Jones, (919) 843-7007 or

Media Contacts

Caroline Dickson

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