The University of Kansas Medical Center, the University of Kansas and Missouri University of Science and Technology have joined with four other schools to research ways to make the nation’s roads safer.
This seven-member research consortium led by the University of Nebraska will receive nearly $14 million over the next five years from the United States Department of Transportation.
Researchers intend to develop a battery of tests that would provide “reliable and valid measures of driving-related visual and cognitive skills of participants,” according to a KU Medical Center announcement about the federal grant and research effort.
“It’s a major grant that will improve safety on our public roads,” said Abiodun Akinwuntan, professor and dean of the School of Health Professions at KU. “It also shows the great potential we have for future collaborations with other universities in the Midwest.”
One of the main goals for KU Medical Center is to develop the Drivers’ Safety Institute, a community resource to improve the fitness of all drivers, including drivers hauling hazardous materials.
Testing will be done on transportation workers involved in moving hazardous materials, especially older workers or those with specific health issues.
“Although accidents can never be completely eliminated, researchers hope that by studying at-risk drivers they can identify factors that affect poor driving decisions, accidents caused by human error or inattentive driving,” the statement says.
In the first year of the grant, the area schools will receive a portion of $2,570,600 that will be distributed among the seven consortium institutions.
The Nebraska-led research is among several federally funded transportation projects that involve finding innovative ways to make the nation’s roadways safer.
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced last week that Missouri S&T will receive $1.4 million to develop robotic tools to inspect and maintain bridges and portions of highways from the air or from the side of the structure.
Missouri S&T will lead a consortium of 10 colleges and universities participating in this effort.
“We plan to develop a robotic arm for both flying and climbing unmanned vehicles to inspect and maintain bridges and other transportation infrastructure,” said Genda Chen, the Robert W. Abbett Distinguished Chair in Civil Engineering at Missouri S&T and director of the University Transportation Center. “Once this technology is developed and in use, we will never need to close traffic for bridge or highway inspection and preservation.”