A significant portion of the projects conducted by the Center for Transportation Safety (CTS) are part of the Texas Highway Safety Performance Plan, which is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). More than 300 traffic safety grants are awarded each year to state, local and non-profit agencies across Texas.
All of the projects are designed to help reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes, injuries and fatalities by addressing problem areas specific to Texas.
Here are some of the projects being conducted by CTS.
The lack of safety gear worn by motorcyclists — helmets and protective clothing — is a contributing factor in the high rate of Texas fatalities and injuries. Researchers with CTS are developing a motorcycle safety equipment use campaign devoted to providing education and awareness about selecting and using safety gear. Researchers will also develop an outreach program after determining why some motorcyclists choose not to use safety equipment and what messages might change their minds.
Headed up by CTS, the Statewide Impaired Driving Task Force was formed in 2012 to provide a comprehensive strategy for preventing and reducing impaired driving behavior. Members of the task force include researchers, educators, law enforcement, prosecutors, adjudicators and advocacy groups. Together, the members are developing an impaired driving plan for the state. The task force meets twice a year and provides insight and guidance to TxDOT’s alcohol and other drug countermeasures program.
Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS)
As part of a multi-year project that helps law enforcement officers reduce crime rates in their community by targeting areas that have a high traffic crash rate, CTS researchers are now assisting the Texas Department of Public Safety. The center is analyzing crash data on the entire roadway system to locate which segments have the highest number of crashes, why crashes are happening, and at what time of year they are happening. Researchers are continuing to conduct DDACTS’s train-the-trainer workshops, helping law officers teach others about the system. Many communities credit their DDACTS program for dramatically lowering crime rates.
CTS conducted Texas’ first observational survey to track mobile device use among drivers in 2013. The survey showed that 10.2 percent of drivers were talking on their cell phones at any given time. This year’s survey, which was completed in September, showed cell phone use decreased to 9 percent. However, researchers determined the rate of texting drivers remained the same for both years. Since 1984, researchers with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute have conducted various observational surveys to determine use of occupant restraints, including safety belts and child safety seats.