Thinking Transportation: Engaging Conversations about Transportation Innovations

Thinking Transportation: Engaging Conversations about Transportation Innovations

Our ability to get from Point A to Point B is something lots of us take for granted. But transporting people and products across town or across the country every day is neither simple nor easy. Join us as we explore the challenges on Thinking Transportation, a podcast about how we get ourselves — and the things we need — from one place to another. Every other week, an expert from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute or other special guest will help us dig deep on a wide range of topics. Find out more: https://tti.tamu.edu/thinking-transportation/

Episodes

July 27, 2021 26 min

An efficient transportation network is central to the success of any commercial enterprise, including those that aren’t legal. Our roads and bridges enable the scourge of human trafficking, but as Research Engineer John Haberman tells us, those who manage the network can play a part in disrupting that heinous activity.

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 Cars and pedestrians have been sharing space on city streets for more than a century, and traveling on foot remains as dangerous as it’s ever been. Associate Transportation Researcher Neal Johnson helps us explore worrisome trends for the most vulnerable users of our roadway network. 

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America’s worst public health crisis in a century gave us a short-lived gridlock hiatus, as TTI Research Fellow Tim Lomax explains. The pandemic also amplified an important and timeless lesson in roadway traffic management at a time when U.S. infrastructure needs are once again top of mind. 

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Roadway safety today is about much more than traffic laws, warning signs, and guardrails. TTI Senior Research Scientist Sue Chrysler illustrates how technologies – even disruptive technologies – are re-imagining how we can prevent crashes and mitigate their enormous personal and financial costs. 

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Passenger vehicle fatalities in the United States have declined recently, but not motorcyclist deaths, which total about 5,000 each year. Some reasons for that are obvious, as Senior Research Scientist Mike Manser notes, but the bigger picture is more complex. Advocates continue to prioritize robust safety programs targeting not only motorcyclists, but also those who share the road with them. 

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The pandemic and a record-setting holiday shopping season made 2020 a year like no other for the freight and delivery industry. TTI Senior Research Engineer Bill Eisele helps us understand how clicking Next Day Delivery or Same Day Delivery directly impacts (and imposes lasting consequences on) our transportation network. 

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Not all classes of vehicles are created equal, because they aren’t charged uniformly for how they use our transportation network. Associate Research Scientist Brianne Glover looks at how the changing mix of cars and trucks — and questions of equity and balance — might alter how we fund our roads and bridges in the future.

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Car crashes have long been the leading cause of serious injury for people under age 25 in America, and in most years the top cause of death for teenagers. Russell Henk, an expert in young driver safety, outlines how a reward-based incentive program can provide a strong complement to traditional law enforcement efforts in helping novice drivers embrace positive driving behaviors changes for the rest of their lives. 

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American roads and bridges get us to where we live, learn, work, shop, and play. And that network has needed repair for a while, now. TTI experts Edith Arámbula Mercado and Charles Gurganus explain how maintaining the nation’s infrastructure is a lot like taking care of our own homes. The longer we postpone necessary upkeep, the higher the cost will be.

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Presidential administrations and their appointees come and go, but USDOT’s mobility mission remains constant. Challenges span a wide spectrum from yesterday’s aging infrastructure to tomorrow’s emerging technologies. Transportation is the circulatory system of the American way of life, Greg Winfree reminds us, and potholes don’t come with “R” or “D” labels. 

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Autonomous vehicles were supposed to be more widely available by now, but they’re not. So, what happened? Those cars have to learn how to do more than just drive, TTI Senior Research Scientist Bob Brydia tells us. They have to learn how to think, too. 

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Our 2020 experience taught us we can reduce roadway gridlock drastically in the face of a public health crisis, by reducing the demand for road space. According to TTI Senior Research Scientist David Schrank, the bigger test will come in whether we can do so once the crisis is over. 

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Nearly all new vehicles have some degree of self-driving capability and internet connectivity. Every time one of those cars corrects a lane-departing drift, brakes hard, or senses a sharp speed boost, it sends a message. And if we listen to those signals, we could save a lot of lives.  Host Bernie Fette talks with TTI’s Research Scientist Eva Shipp and Senior Research Engineer Shawn Turner about a revolutionary approach to preventi...

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