BTN LiveBIG: Iowa leading research to make roads safer

Road construction is an unfortunate headache many people deal with during their daily commute. Now, research being done by the University of Iowa is working to make these projects more effective, and save the government millions of dollars.

In September, a group led by Dr. Susan Chrysler and the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) at Iowa won a $1.4 million University Transportation Center (UTC) grant from the federal government. The consortium will utilize driving simulation to address the safety issues prioritized by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Iowa’s NADS program is strong, which makes them the obvious lead for an organization like our UTC,” said Professor David Noyce. “Their background and capabilities make them a strong leader.”

Noyce is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Wisconsin who is also working on the project.

The other universities partnering with Iowa in the group will be the University of Wisconsin, the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, the University of Central Florida and the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez.

The goal of these schools is to do collaborative research across different regions of the country.

“One of the challenges of driving simulation research is that our subjects have to come to the simulator,” said Noyce. “Will people in Wisconsin or Iowa react the same way as people in Massachusetts or California? We have partners on the East Coast and in the South which allows us to eliminate regional bias while adding expertise to our team.”

One of their first collaborative projects is using simulators to identify potential issues that could impact design and planning for roadways.

“We recently spent time simulating part of an interchange that’s being reconstructed in the Milwaukee area,” Noyce said. “We were able to discover some human factors impacted by traffic controls and identified some things through simulation that the designers weren’t aware of in their proposed design.”

For more about the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS), watch this LiveB1G video.

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