The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced that one of five National University Transportation Centers will be run by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Highway Safety Research Center. According to a recent press release, the school is slated to receive $2.8 million in federal funds during the first year of its research and then another $15 million over the course of the next five years. The goal will be to help create and manage a program called the Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety. This will be a chance for the university – and North Carolina – to lead and influence the future of transportation.
Ultimately, North Carolina researchers will be at the forefront of progress in slashing the number of roadway injuries and deaths. The better we understand traffic safety problems, the more effectively we can address them.
The other top transportation programs are Duke (also in North Carolina), Florida Atlantic, and the universities of Tennessee, Knoxville and California, Berkeley. Already, UNC heads up the Injury Research Prevention Center, which studies a range of topics, including (by funding):
- Violence against children and youth – $6 million
- Traumatic brain injury – $4 million
- Occupational violence – $1.7 million
- Prescription painkiller overdoses – $1.5 million
- Transportation-related injury – $613,000
- Older adult falls – $318,000
- Suicide – $281,000
- Partner violence – $244,000
- Other – $3.5 million
In total, among the five programs, the DOT is doling out $300 million in university grants with the stated purpose of helping to address the country’s expanding need for the efficient, safe, and environmentally sound movement of goods and people. The agency says there are “unprecedented challenges” on the roads due to a myriad of factors, including increasing freight volumes, population growth, and global warming. Universities are necessary to identify not only some of the important issues but also workable solutions. Cutting-edge research is the only way we’re going to develop sound policies for now and into the future.
The work of these universities will help the DOT meet the goals outlined in the “Beyond Traffic” initiative. The goal is to update our roads, bridges, airports, and other transportation systems to meet not just the current transportation challenges but also those that will exist through 2045 and beyond. The agency notes that over the past six years, the U.S. government passed 32 short-term measures to keep the surface transportation system afloat. These kinds of constant budget shortfalls and funding uncertainties make it difficult if not impossible to make progress and modernize our transportation systems. The current policies and programs haven’t been reformed to grapple with today’s challenges, let alone those of tomorrow. We have these static policies despite living in an era of rapid change. As a result, our transportation system is increasingly fragile and deteriorating. We are in turn losing our advantage in the ability to move things and people faster, safer, and more reliably than anywhere else in the world.
The Beyond Traffic program is not a precise action plan at this point. Instead, it is an effort to identify where we are and which issues need to be addressed. This is where the researchers at UNC come in. Our car accident attorneys in Charlotte are anxious to see the results.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Carolina to lead one of five national transportation centers, focus on road safety, Dec. 6, 2016, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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