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UT, Center for Transportation Research Help Fund Road Safety Center

asad-khattakThe University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will be a leading contributor to the Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety, a new national university transportation center funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Highway Safety Research Center, the CSCRS unites leading programs in transportation research, planning, public health, data science and engineering, with UNC, UT, Duke University, Florida Atlantic University and the University of California, Berkeley, all taking part.

The Center for Transportation Research and the Department of Civil and Environchris-cherrymental Engineering will lead UT’s efforts at the new center.

“Our participation builds on both the department and the Tickle College of Engineering’s history of leadership in transportation safety, and extends it to the national level,” said Chris Cox, head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Our students and faculty will make significant contributions toward decreasing the 38,000 fatalities that occur on U.S. roadways each year.”

Beaman Distinguished Professor Asad Khattak will serve as principal investigator on the project, with Associate Professor Chris Cherry also playing a large role. Both researchers work with CTR along with their primary roles in civil engineering.

“This consortium will lead efforts to meet transportation safety needs throughout the United States,” said Khattak. “We will examine behaviors that lead to high levels of crash and injury risks, the role of connected and automated vehicles and integrated systems solutions for safety, extracting new knowledge from big data to improve safety, and understanding transportation workforce culture.”

One hope for the center is that it can accelerate progress in reducing injuries and fatalities on the nation’s roads by offering a new model for understanding and addressing traffic safety issues.

By improving those issues, Khattak pointed out, the work of the center should also reduce the amount spent on transportation safety, which accounts for almost $1 trillion per year in the U.S.

First-year funding for the center will total $2.8 million, with up to $15 million in grant funding over five years available.

CSCRS is being set up to foster ideas that will allow the group to lead and influence the future of transportation safety research for the nation by promoting collaboration, multidisciplinary research and education, and technology transfer activities.

“Transportation professionals are challenged to design systems that provide mobility benefits that limit risks,” said Cherry. “This new national research center will focus on safe systems that merge all aspects of transportation mobility, access and technology by breaking down some traditional silos that have limited gains in safety for all road users.

“Through this multidisciplinary center, we will move safety science and engineering research to a new level.”

CTR director David Clarke said that the center will fully participate in all CSCRS activities.

“We will conduct safety research, develop new approaches to education and workforce development, and communicate results to transportation professionals and practitioners at all levels,” he said. “Our objectives include educating a technology-savvy workforce that can provide innovative solutions to safety problems today and well into the future.”

The grant funds one of five national centers that will be awarded under the University Transportation Centers Program to advance research and education initiatives that address critical transportation challenges facing the nation.

View the comprehensive award announcement on the USDOT website.


Lissa Gay (865-974-8760,

David Goddard (865-974-0683,