HSRC researchers earn two TRB awards for one paper, 2019 Waller Award and Outstanding Paper Award

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.Four UNC Highway Safety Research Center researchers earned two Transportation Research Board honors for one paper, the prestigious 2019 Patricia F. Waller Award and the 2019 Outstanding Paper Award from the Standing Committee on Pedestrians (ANF10). The paper, Midblock Pedestrian Crash Predictions in a Systemic, Risk-Based Pedestrian Safety Process, was written by Engineering Research Associate and lead author Wesley Kumfer and Senior Research Associates Bo Lan, Laura Sandt, and Libby Thomas.

“This award demonstrates the need for better pedestrian risk models and shows the importance of improving our current safety management processes,” said Kumfer. “It’s encouraging that others see pedestrian safety and systemic analyses as important topics in the field.”

“This was a team effort and built on the shoulders of many others before us,” added Thomas.

The goal of this study was to develop a risk-based, systemic analysis approach that allows practitioners to identify risky locations for pedestrians based on a number of roadway, traffic, and spatial contexts, even if no crashes had previously occurred at these locations. To do that, the team built two crash prediction models using data from the City of Seattle and cooperated with practitioners in Seattle’s Department of Transportation to assess the outcomes and usefulness of those models.

Midblock Pedestrian Crash Predictions in a Systemic, Risk-Based Pedestrian Safety Process is an adaptation of the work conducted through TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program 17-73 project and was presented in NCHRP Research Report 893: Systemic Pedestrian Safety Analysis. The awards will be presented at the 2020 TRB Annual Meeting on January 12–16, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

The Patricia F. Waller Award was established by TRB in 2004. Dr. Waller’s career, which included nearly two decades as researcher at the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, combined highway safety, injury prevention, and public health, through the lens of her training and clinical expertise in psychology. Her many interests included driver licensing, aging and driving, heavy truck safety, alcohol and safety, and impaired driving. Her work influenced policy and procedures for licensing young drivers throughout the world.

Long-time HSRC researchers, Sandt and Thomas received the prestigious Waller Award in 2008 as an eleven-member team for the paper Evaluation of the Miami-Dade Pedestrian Safety Demonstration Program, written by Charles V. Zegeer, Scott Vincent Masten, Lauren Marchetti, Laura S. Sandt, Austin Brown, Jane Stutts, Libby J. Thomas, Richard D. Blomberg, David Henderson, Martin M. Levy, and Yingling Fan.

To learn more about other recent HSRC staff and research awards check out our previous issue of Directions.