The October 2008 issue of UTC Spotlight, the monthly newsletter for the University Transportation Center programs, highlights the Institute’s research aimed at improving rural intersection safety.
ITS Institute News Archives: 2008
This summer, with gas prices at an all-time high and warm weather beckoning riders to hit the road, motorcycles and scooters are more popular than ever. But statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that while motorcycles account for only three percent of motor vehicle registrations, they make up 11 percent of total motor vehicle fatalities.
Researchers from the HumanFIRST Program and the Intelligent Vehicles Laboratory recently collaborated to study the effects of alcohol on motorcyclists, taking advantage of the programs’ access to unique research facilities and expertise in monitoring driver performance.
Deputy Secretary of Transportation Thomas Barrett, during a recent visit to the University of Minnesota, had the opportunity to take a close look at the specially equipped motorcycle at the heart of the project. On hand to brief Barrett were principal investigator Janet Creaser of the HumanFIRST Program and Intelligent Vehicles Lab director Craig Shankwitz.
Do we need more air in our tires or less hot air from politicians? … “It’ll have some effect,” said Dr. Craig Shankwitz, mechanical engineer with the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota.
The ITS Institute welcomed visitors from the federal government’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) and a delegation of Congressional staffers gathering information on transportation issues in May and June. Both groups of visitors had the opportunity to tour the Institute’s research facilities and see first-hand how new technologies are being developed and deployed to improve the nation’s transportation system.
Story featured on KMSP-TV Fox 9 News, June 30, 2008 (no longer available online).
Vice Admiral Thomas Barrett stood on the plaza in front of the University of Minnesota’s McNamara Alumni Center on Monday morning. He stood next to a motorcycle holding a black helmet fitted with wires and a camera. “If I’m getting on a bike, I’m having a helmet on.”
The Deputy U.S. Transportation Secretary slipped the helmet on and climbed aboard the modified bike, dress shoes, suit and all. He was trying out the U’s device for researching motorcycle accidents and deaths.
Here’s one way to get teen drivers off the cell phone: Make them hook it up to the speedometer and automatically text Mom and Dad whenever the car is speeding.
The phones could conceivably keep track of such things as the number of passengers in the car, whether they’re wearing seatbelts and even monitor the volume of the stereo.
Using the University of Minnesota HumanFIRST virtual driving simulator, researchers can monitor how a sleepy driver isn’t able to drive safely.
Story was published by KMSP-TV Fox 9 News, May 21, 2008 (no longer available online)
Twelve students and two teachers from the Blaine High School Center for Engineering, Math, and Science visited the Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) and the ITS Institute on April 23. The Center for Engineering, Math and Science is a specialty program within Blaine High School offering an integrated and rigorous, in-depth program in mathematics, science, and engineering.
The purpose of the visit was to give students a perspective on transportation engineering and transportation careers. Students spent time learning about the uninhabited aerial vehicle in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, traffic monitoring and simulation research in the MTO, and earthquakes and structures in the civil engineering department.
Shawn Haag, program coordinator for CTS, said the students’ reactions were enthusiastic. “The visit really opened their eyes,” he said, referring to the variety of work and research in transportation. When asked if they would consider transportation as a potential career, over half of the students raised their hands.