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Chapter 3 Safety

Chapter 3 Safety

Safety Strategic Goal

Enhance public health and safety by working toward the elimination of transportation-related deaths and injuries.

Outcomes

  1. Reduction in transportation-related deaths.
  2. Reduction in transportation-related injuries.

Safety is DOT’s primary strategic goal. The Department strives to improve the benefits of transportation while consistently reducing risks to the public’s health and well-being. Over the next five years, DOT will conduct RD&T and work with stakeholders to ensure that the technologies and techniques necessary to identify and resolve safety issues are developed, made available, and enforced. The following RD&T strategies represent the primary research topics in support of the Department’s safety goal and outcomes:

1. Conduct and support research to understand and address the causal factors and risks in accidents and to anticipate future safety risks in all transportation modes. Supports outcomes 1 and 2.

2. Conduct and support research to determine the most effective ways of mitigating the consequences of transportation accidents and incidents in all modes. Supports outcomes 1 and 2.

3. Support safety rulemaking by assessing the potential safety impacts of new transportation technologies, vehicles, concepts, designs, and procedures. Supports outcomes 1 and 2.

The following sections summarize the research areas, emerging research priorities, and primary RD&T activities for advancing these strategies. Appendix C shows anticipated funding levels for FY 2006 through 2010.

Understand and Address Causal Factors and Risks

Safety

  • Understand and Address Causal Factors and Risks
  • Mitigate Accidents and Incidents
  • Assess New Technologies, Vehicles, Concepts, Designs, and Procedures

A foremost concern for the Department’s RD&T programs is to identify the causal factors in transportation accidents and incidents, particularly human factors; to anticipate future risks; and to develop and implement technologies, concepts, practices, and other prevention strategies with the potential to improve safety. The Department will implement this RD&T strategy through research in the following key areas: human factors and medical risks; vehicle, equipment, and infrastructure factors; operational factors; hazardous materials transportation; and safety data, information systems, and risk analysis.

Human Factors and Medical Risks

Over the next five years, the following operating administration programs will address safety issues related to human factors, human error, and medical risks. Table 3-1 shows milestones for these programs.

FAA

Aeromedical Research. Improves the safety of passengers, aircrews, and other human assets in the National Airspace System (NAS) in support of FAA’s regulatory guidelines. Research in this area will address forensic toxicology, biochemistry, bioinformatics, functional genomics, radiobiology, and environmental physiology. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategies 2 and 3 and Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategy 6.

Air Traffic Control/Technical Operations Human Factors. Ensures that the humans in the air traffic control system are productive and provide the required level of service within a minimum level of error. This program will support the development of guidelines, standards, reference handbooks, technical reports, checklists, tools, and informative briefings essential for implementation and enhancement of advanced operational concepts, systems, and subsystems.

Flight Deck/Maintenance/System Integration Human Factors. Develops more effective methods for aircrew, inspector, and maintenance technician training; develops more human-centered flight controls and displays; and increases human factors considerations in certifying new aircraft and in designing and modifying existing equipment. Through this program, FAA researchers will develop improved knowledge for certifying automation-based systems, enhancing task performance, and applying error management strategies.

FHWA

Safety Research and Innovation Deployment Program (Safety R&D). Demonstrates the application of innovative technologies in highway safety and supports the deployment and evaluation of safety technologies and innovations at the State and local levels. In this research area, efforts will include the deployment of best practices in safety training and management. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 2.

Emerging Research Priority: Human-Automation Interaction

There is a need for research that will lead to an increased understanding of human-machine interactions related to safety performance. This crossmodal issue is particularly important in future transportation systems. An evolving knowledge base is needed to guide development of appropriate regulatory and certification processes and the training of system operators in all modes. A major additional concern is the possibility for unintended consequences resulting from system failures as well as unexpected natural and human-caused events and disruptions.

Key Supporting RD&T Programs:

  • Air Traffic Control/Technical Operations Human Factors
  • Flight Deck/Maintenance/System Integration Human Factors
  • Produce Safer Drivers
  • Rail Human Factors
  • Crash Avoidance and Human/Vehicle Performance

Strategic Highway Research Program II (Corporate Activities). Conducts concentrated, results-oriented applied research focusing on solving top problems in the areas of highway safety, reliability, capacity, and renewal. Work in the area of human factors will develop fundamental knowledge of crash factors that could lead to a sizable reduction in deaths and injuries. This program will also support Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategies 1, 2, and 4.

Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (Planning and Environment). Focuses on improving understanding of the complex relationship between surface transportation and the environment. In the area of human factors, the program will support safety-conscious planning of surface transportation systems and improvement processes. This program will also support Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategies 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6; the RD&T Strategy for Global Connectivity; and Environmental RD&T Strategies 1 and 2.

FMCSA

Produce Safer Carriers. Seeks to improve the safety of commercial motor carriers and understand the impact of medical issues and medications on driver safety. The program will apply safety management principles; compile, communicate, and enable best management practices; support FMCSA enforcement of carrier-related regulations; enhance the performance of medical examiners who certify driver physical qualifications; and explore and enhance driver health and wellness.

Produce Safer Drivers. Helps ensure that commercial drivers are physically qualified, trained to perform safely, and mentally alert. Research will improve understanding of driver fatigue and other issues and assess various countermeasures, including roadside safety technologies, driving simulators, collision warning devices, and operational concepts. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 2.

FRA

Grade Crossings. Conducts research in grade crossing human factors to address two areas: why highway users have crashes with trains and why people trespass on railroad rights-of-way. In the first research area, the program will conduct field studies and laboratory simulations to examine how train conspicuity and the effectiveness of train horns affect train detection and how driver expectations and motivations affect their willingness to cross; in the second, FRA will continue to study the reasons why people trespass on railroad property, including a U.S.–Canadian study to determine how many trespasser deaths might be suicides. Human Factors. Studies a variety of issues involving human error in railroad operations. The program will emphasize research on the Close Call pilot program, a fatigue model for use in improving rail crew scheduling, human factors issues for dispatchers, human-machine interface issues, remote-controlled locomotive interfaces, ballast ergonomics, and behavior-based safety approaches.

NHTSA

Crash Avoidance and Human/Vehicle Performance. Evaluates driver-assistance technologies to ensure that the maximum safety benefits are derived. Research will determine which new technologies have the greatest potential to significantly reduce the number of crashes, and resulting injuries and fatalities, and develop and implement plans to facilitate their widespread deployment. Research into advanced safety systems will develop suitable human factors guidelines for the driver–vehicle interface associated with many emerging safety technologies.

Highway Safety Research. Provides the scientific basis for developing effective programs to reduce the occurrence of crashes due to unsafe driving behaviors. The program will emphasize research in support of NHTSA’s goals for reducing alcoholrelated fatalities and increasing safety belt use, as well as special initiatives in child passenger safety; pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorcyclist safety; and elderly driver safety and mobility.

Vehicle, Equipment, and Infrastructure Factors

Safety

  • Understand and Address Causal Factors and Risks
  • Mitigate Accidents and Incidents
  • Assess New Technologies, Vehicles, Concepts, Designs, and Procedures

Research in this area addresses the safety performance of aircraft and vehicles; crash avoidance and human-vehicle interaction; safety characteristics of highways, rail, pipelines, and other infrastructure; and safety applications of intelligent transportation systems (ITS). Work will include the RD&T programs listed below. Table 3-2 shows program milestones.

FAA

Advanced Materials/Structural Safety. Assesses and addresses the safety implications of new and present-day composites, alloys, and other materials, and associated structures and fabrication techniques. Researchers will develop analytical and test methods to understand how design, load, and damage can affect composite structures and develop maintenance and repair methods. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategies 2 and 3.

Aging Aircraft. Reduces the number of accidents and incidents associated with the failure of aircraft structures, components, and systems. The program will develop the knowledge, inspection tools, and techniques to prevent or mitigate the effects of safety hazards associated with the aging of airframe structures, engine components, and mechanical and electrical systems.

Aircraft Catastrophic Failure Prevention Research. Develops technologies and methods to assess risk and prevent occurrence of potentially catastrophic defects, failures, and malfunctions in aircraft, aircraft components, and aircraft systems. In particular, researchers will assess the use of advanced materials to protect passengers and aircraft critical systems in the event of catastrophic engine failures, and develop and publish guidelines for the use of explicit finite element analysis for analyzing engine failures.

Airport Technology Research–Safety. Helps to achieve the overall FAA goal of reducing aviation accidents by improving airport safety. RD&T activities will seek to improve airport lighting and marking, reduce wildlife hazards, improve airport fire and rescue capabilities, and reduce surface accidents. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 3 and the RD&T Strategy for Global Connectivity.

Fire Research and Safety. Develops technologies, procedures, test methods, and criteria to prevent accidents caused by hidden in-flight fires and fuel tank explosions and to improve survivability during a post-crash fire. Research will focus on nearterm improvements in aircraft fuel tank explosion protection, fire detection and suppression systems, and interior materials fire-test methods and criteria. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategies 2 and 3 and the RD&T Strategy for Global Connectivity.

Propulsion and Fuel Systems. Enhances the airworthiness, reliability, and performance of civil turbine and piston engines, propellers, fuels, and fuel management systems. Researchers will also work with fuel, airframe, and engine manufacturers to test new unleaded fuels as they become available.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research. Investigates current technological capabilities to sense potential traffic conflicts. Research will determine system characteristics and limitations to enable see-and-avoid capabilities; review safety implications of system impediments to command, control, and communications; assess data concerning flight termination systems; and evaluate historical and current technology development. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 3.

FHWA

Center for Excellence in Rural Safety (Safety R&D). Provides research, training, and outreach on innovative uses of technology to enhance rural safety and economic development, assess local community needs, and improve access to mobile emergency treatment. Among other activities, the program will address the online and seminar training needs of rural transportation practitioners and policymakers.

Center for Surface Transportation Safety (Safety R&D). Develops and disseminates advanced transportation safety techniques and innovations in both rural areas and urban communities. The center will use a controlled access highway with state-of-the-art features to test safety devices and techniques that enhance driver performance, to examine advanced pavement and lighting systems, and to develop techniques to address older driver and fatigue issues.

Cooperative Intersection Collision Avoidance (ITS JPO in partnership with NHTSA). Helps to save lives by reducing crossing-path crashes. In this initiative, DOT will work in partnership with automotive manufacturers and State and local transportation agencies to pursue an optimized combination of infrastructure- and vehicle-based collision avoidance systems.

Integrated Vehicle-Based Safety Systems (ITS JPO in partnership with NHTSA). Addresses the 2.6 million rear-end, run-off-the-road, and lane-change crashes that occur every year. This initiative will seek to establish partnerships with the automotive, commercial vehicle, and transit vehicle industries to accelerate the introduction of integrated vehicle-based safety systems into the Nation’s vehicle fleet.

Safety Research and Innovation Deployment Program (Safety R&D). Demonstrates the application of innovative technologies in highway safety and supports the deployment and evaluation of safety innovations at the State and local levels. In this research area, work will include the deployment of best practices in highway planning and design. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 2.

Vehicle-Infrastructure Integration (ITS JPO in partnership with NHTSA). Researches the use of vehicles to anonymously transmit information on traffic and road conditions from every major road in the transportation network. With respect to safety, this initiative will address the 21,000 deaths that occur annually as a result of roadway departures and intersection-related incidents by working toward the deployment of advanced vehicle and infrastructure systems designed to prevent roadway departures and enhance intersection safety. This program will also support Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategy 1.

FMCSA

Improve Safety of Commercial Motor Vehicles. Improves truck and motor coach safety performance through applications of technology. This program will evaluate vehicle designs to improve driver health and safety, assess the impact of new vehicle technology, and evaluate and seek to increase the use of safety countermeasures such as onboard monitoring systems. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 3.

FRA

Integrated Track Stability Assessment and Monitoring System. Provides a grant to Marshall University and the University of Nebraska to develop remote sensing technologies that can be integrated and deployed in a mobile inspection vehicle to monitor rail track. (This project will be completed in FY 2006.)

Railroad System Issues. Provides for research in railroad systems safety for equipment and track, railroad systems, and locomotives. In this research area, the program will address the inspection techniques, methodologies, and equipment necessary to ensure early and reliable detection of defects and unsafe conditions. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 2 and Security RD&T Strategies 1 and 2.

Rolling Stock and Components. Researches onboard condition monitoring systems (OBCMS), wayside monitoring systems, and material and design improvements. Research will also focus on demonstrating an Advanced Concept Train, which will consist of the OBCMS along with advanced couplers; advanced hand brakes; advanced angle cocks; brake sensors; condition monitoring sensors; a communication system to transmit sensor data to the locomotive (and perhaps to wayside monitoring systems); and an Internet-accessible site in which the data may be accessed by maintenance facilities.

Track and Structures. Conducts research on rail inspection techniques, material and component reliability, track and structure design and performance, and track stability data processing and feedback. Working in cooperation with the railroad industry and suppliers, the program will continue development of automated systems for rail defect detection, high-speed video joint bar inspection, and track geometry inspection. This program will also support Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategy 2.

Track and Train Interaction. Researches the interaction among the train suspension system, wheels, and track to determine the influence of track geometry, wheel and rail profile, rail lubrication, and vehicle and track parameters on safety and performance. The program will seek to understand the causes of derailments, develop solutions to prevent them, and enhance FRA’s vehicle and track performance modeling and simulation capabilities.

Train Control. Develops train control standards and equipment for locomotives. The focus of the program will be on developing various train control segments and related telecommunications needed to implement a nationwide positive train control system. This program will also support Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategy 3.

FTA

Identify Solutions to Improve Transit Safety (Improve Safety and Emergency Preparedness). Assists States, local transit authorities, and the transit industry through safety technical assistance and improved technology and training programs. In this research area, FTA will evaluate the impact of new vehicle and infrastructure technologies and work with other DOT operating administrations to test the fire safety of composites and interior materials and to improve railroad grade crossing technologies. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 2.

NHTSA

Crash Avoidance Initiative. Analyzes crash data to identify safety problems and benefits of new electronic technologies and develops methodologies and performance criteria to test and evaluate these technologies.

Heavy Vehicles. Develops the scientific basis for improving heavy vehicle safety. The program will make heavy vehicles less prone to crashes by improving their braking, handling, and visibility characteristics; by mitigating the consequences of collisions that occur between heavy trucks and other vehicles; and by improving driver performance through use of advanced technologies to prevent crashes.

Pneumatic Tire Research. Seeks to reduce passenger vehicle and truck crashes due to aging or underinflated tires by developing test procedures and performance requirements.

OST

Navigation and Spectrum Policy. Supports the formulation of positioning, navigation, and spectrum policy and the civilian management and use of the Global Positioning System (GPS). This effort will coordinate performance monitoring of the GPS civil signal with all civilian agencies, assure uninterrupted access to radio spectrum for safety-of-life radionavigation services and systems, and support the development and launch of GPS satellites with the new L5 “safety of life” signals. This program will also support Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategies 3 and 4 and the RD&T Strategy for Global Connectivity.

Safety, Energy, and Environment. Conducts policy research to support the formulation and recommendation of Departmental policies, plans, and guidelines related to public health and safety. Efforts in this area will assess the effectiveness of various techniques for accelerating application and adoption of safety technologies. This program will also support Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategies 1 and 5 and Environmental RD&T Strategy 1.

PHMSA

Pipeline Safety R&D. Improves pipeline inspection and analysis tools and strengthens the industry’s ability to effectively manage pipeline integrity. Research will address promising technologies for improving pipeline safety, including better corrosion detection technology and direct assessment techniques; improved tools for preventing and detecting damage and leaks; and materials that can better withstand thirdparty damage, corrosion, and cracking. This program will also support Environmental RD&T Strategy 1.

Operational Factors

Safety

  • Understand and Address Causal Factors and Risks
  • Mitigate Accidents and Incidents
  • Assess New Technologies, Vehicles, Concepts, Designs, and Procedures

This research addresses the operational elements involved in transportation accidents and incidents, particularly those related to weather events, runway incursions, grade crossings, and derailments. Specific RD&T programs will include the following. Table 3-3 shows program milestones.

FAA

Advanced Technology Development and Prototyping. Improves operational safety through the following research activities:

  • General Aviation and Vertical Flight Technology—Emphasizes the direct needs of light general aviation airplanes, helicopters, and tilt rotor aircraft.
  • Runway Incursion Reduction—Selects and evaluates runway incursion reduction technologies to validate their technical performance and operational suitability.
  • Safer Skies—Develops guidance materials and revisions to Advisory Circulars, Aeronautical Information Manuals, Handbook Bulletins for Air Transportation, and Notices to Airmen.
  • Safe Flight 21–Alaska Capstone—Improves aviation system safety in Alaska through the introduction of new communications, navigation, and surveillance technologies.
  • Wind Profiling and Weather Research—Generates turbulence advisories and wind information used by commercial and general aviation pilots in the Juneau area. (Research will be completed in FY 2006.)

Atmospheric Hazards/Digital System Safety. Reduces aviation’s vulnerability to in-flight icing and other atmospheric hazards. The program will develop and test technologies to detect frozen contamination, predict anti-icing fluid failure, and ensure safe operations in atmospheric icing conditions; and develop technologies, advisories, and guidance materials to ensure safe operation in electromagnetic hazards resulting from electromagnetic interference, cosmic radiation, high-intensity radiated fields, and lightning. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 3.

Weather Program. Strives to reduce the number of accidents associated with weather and to minimize the impacts of adverse weather events on NAS operational capacity. Research will increase safety and capacity by developing new technologies for providing accurate, accessible, and efficient weather observations, warnings, and forecasts. This program will also support Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategy 4.

FHWA

Exploratory Advanced Research (Corporate Activities). Addresses longer term, higher risk research with potentially dramatic breakthroughs for improving the safety aspects of highway and intermodal transportation systems. Among the topics that the program will address are bicycle and pedestrian safety. This program will also support Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategies 2, 3, and 4 and Environmental RD&T Strategy 1.

FRA

Grade Crossings. Provides for the continued installation of crossing warning systems in designated high-speed corridors and demonstrates innovative grade crossing systems. The program will investigate improvements to existing systems, develop new components and systems, and resolve grade crossing problems such as false and mixed activations.

Train Control. Assists States, railroads, and suppliers to develop and deploy positive train control systems as a safety overlay to prevent train collisions, overspeed derailments, and roadway worker injuries due to operational errors. This program will also support Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategy 3.

FTA

Identify Solutions to Improve Transit Safety (Improve Safety and Emergency Preparedness). Assists States, local transit authorities, and the transit industry through safety technical assistance and improved technology and training programs. In this area, the program will provide training to the transit workforce on accident prevention and investigation, bus operator safety, and industrial safety. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 2.

Hazardous Materials Transportation

RD&T programs in this area seek to identify and mitigate the risks inherent in the transportation of hazardous materials. Over the next five years, these efforts will include the following programs. Milestones are shown in Table 3-4.

FMCSA

Advance Safety Through Information-Based Initiatives. Improves the safety and productivity of commercial motor vehicle operations through the application of information systems and technologies. In this research area, the program will assess factors related to serious crashes involving hazardous materials.

FRA

Hazardous Materials Transportation. Conducts research in hazardous materials transportation safety, damage assessment and inspection, and tank car safety. Research will focus on tank car thermal protection, gasket materials, and operating environments; fitting protection; and evaluation of emergency breathing equipment for train crews. This program will also support Environmental RD&T Strategy 1.

OST

Safety, Energy, and Environment. Conducts policy research to support the formulation and recommendation of Departmental policies, plans, and guidelines related to public health and safety. Efforts in this area will address policies for coordinating hazardous materials inspection and enforcement between DOT’s operating administrations and the economic and safety regulation of petroleum products pipelines. This program will also support Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategies 1 and 5 and Environmental RD&T Strategy 1.

PHMSA

Hazardous Materials Safety R&D. Provides the foundation for PHMSA’s hazardous material regulatory, enforcement, and emergency response actions. The program will research the risks surrounding the transportation of hazardous materials and identify ways to minimize those risks and mitigate the consequences of such an incident, including packaging design and testing, database development, emergency response, hazard identification, human factors, root-cause analysis, and consequence modeling. This program will include Hazardous Materials Transportation Cooperative Research, an FHWA-funded pilot program administered by the National Research Council, and will also support the RD&T Strategy for Global Connectivity, Environmental RD&T Strategy 1, and Security RD&T Strategy 2.

Safety Data, Information Systems, and Risk Analysis

This broad research area encompasses DOT efforts in safety data collection and analysis, risk analysis and risk management, and automated safety information systems. Over the next five years, it will encompass the following RD&T activities. Table 3-5 shows milestones for these programs.

Emerging Research Priority: Application of Enhanced Safety Data and Knowledge

Application of digital technology throughout the transportation enterprise produces large quantities of safety-relevant data. The research challenge is to convert these data into useful knowledge that can improve transportation safety. The objective is to provide decisionmakers—aviation, vehicle safety, rail, motor carrier, hazardous materials, and pipeline safety—with the information they need to make better safety decisions.

Key Supporting RD&T Programs:

  • Aviation Safety Risk Analysis
  • Safety Research and Innovation Deployment
  • Transportation Safety Information Management System
  • Advance Safety Through Information-Based Initiatives
  • Railroad System Issues
  • Improve Transit Safety
  • Data Analysis Program
  • Early Fatality Notification System
  • Fatality Analysis Reporting System
  • National Automotive Sampling System
  • National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey
  • Special Crash Investigations
  • State Data Program
FAA

Aviation Safety Risk Analysis. Improves safety by developing risk management methodologies, tools, technical information, procedures, and practices. In collaboration with industry, researchers will ensure that risk management decision-support tools are properly defined, developed, tested, and evaluated prior to implementaTransportation Research, Development and Technology Strategic Plan 37 tion and that changes to regulations, advisory materials, and procedures are implemented in a timely manner.

FHWA

Safety Research and Innovation Deployment Program (Safety R&D). Demonstrates the application of innovative technologies in highway safety and supports the deployment and evaluation of safety innovations at the State and local levels. In this research area, the program will analyze data contained in the Highway Safety Information System. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 2.

Transportation Safety Information Management System (Safety R&D). Further develops software applications for the collection, integration, management, and dissemination of safety data from—and for use among—State and local safety and transportation agencies. Data will include driver licensing, vehicle registration, emergency management systems, injury surveillance, roadway inventories, and motor carrier databases.

FMCSA

Advance Safety Through Information-Based Initiatives. Applies information systems and technologies to improve the safety and productivity of commercial motor vehicle operations. In particular, additional data analysis of the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) will provide valuable information in new research areas; the Safety Data Risk Factors initiative will complement the LTCCS by addressing the relative crash risk associated with various driver characteristics; and national deployment and expansion of Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks (CVISN) capabilities will continue.

FRA

Grade Crossings. Provides for the continued installation of crossing warning systems in designated high-speed corridors and demonstrates innovative grade crossing systems.

Railroad System Issues. Provides for research in railroad systems safety for equipment and track, railroad systems, and locomotives. The program will include risk analysis of accident frequency, distribution, patterns, and consequences, and maintain a geographic information system database for information on railroad networks. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 2 and Security RD&T Strategies 1 and 2.

Train Control. As required by Federal regulations, develops risk assessment methods for determining that any new microprocessor-based train control system is equal to or better than conventional systems as base cases, in terms of risk mitigation and accident prevention. This program will also support Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategy 3.

FTA

Identify Solutions to Improve Transit Safety (Improve Safety and Emergency Preparedness). Assists States, local transit authorities, and the transit industry through safety technical assistance and improved technology and training programs. The program will support an enhanced safety and security data analysis process and produce the Transit Safety and Security Statistics Report. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 2.

NHTSA

Data Analysis Program. Provides timely and pertinent safety data analyses and supports public communication campaigns. By providing safety information to both internal and external customers, this program will continue to assist NHTSA with its mission of saving lives, preventing injuries, and reducing economic costs.

Early Fatality Notification System. Provides real- or near-real-time data on the number of fatalities resulting from motor vehicle crashes. This data will allow NHTSA to provide timely information to Congress, assist States in their safety programs, and inform the public about the state of highway safety.

Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Provides a census of all fatal highway crashes in the 50 States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands. FARS data will serve as the basis for the majority of NHTSA’s data-driven programs over the next five years.

National Automotive Sampling System (NASS). Provides NHTSA and other users with nationally representative data on motor vehicle crashes. Through the NASS General Estimates System and Crashworthiness Data System, this program will continue to assist the agency in assessing motor vehicle crash trends and the interaction of occupants and vehicles in real-world crashes.

National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey. Provides researchers with the scientific data needed to identify the specific factors or events that lead up to a crash. These data will be useful in identifying the most beneficial crash-avoidance technologies and in evaluating the potential of emerging countermeasures. Special Crash Investigations. Collects and examines data from thousands of crashes to identify vehicle problems early on. A specific focus of the program will be to continue the collection and analysis of data on crashes involving vehicles equipped with advanced occupant protection systems to determine how well they perform in real-world crashes.

State Data Program. Works with State agencies to expand the inventory and availability of State-level crash and medical outcome data. This program will continue to complement NHTSA’s national data systems by providing crucial information about the medical and financial burdens of highway crashes and as a supplementary source of crash data used in defect analysis and new technology evaluation.

Mitigate the Consequences of Accidents and Incidents

Safety

  • Understand and Address Causal Factors and Risks
  • Mitigate Accidents and Incidents
  • Assess New Technologies, Vehicles, Concepts, Designs, and Procedures

A primary objective for the Department is to support the development of technologies, standards, and procedures that mitigate the consequences of accidents and incidents that occur. In particular, DOT seeks to minimize crash-related fatalities and injuries. Over the next five years, RD&T in two primary research areas will advance this Departmental strategy: emergency response and operations, and crashworthiness and occupant protection.

Emergency Response and Operations

The objective of this research is to reduce fatalities and injuries through more effective incident and emergency response. The following RD&T programs will support this area. Table 3-6 shows program milestones.

FHWA

Evacuation Management and Operations (ITS JPO). Improves operational technology and practices to enable the safe and effective movement of people and goods during emergency evacuation situations (both with and without notice). The program will address the application of ITS technologies to improve notice and no-notice evacuation planning and execution, with an orientation that includes both decisionmakers and evacuees. This program will also support Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategy 1 and Security RD&T Strategy 1.

Next Generation 9-1-1 (ITS JPO). Aims to establish the foundation for public emergency communications services in a wireless mobile society. This ITS initiative will enable an enhanced 9-1-1 system that permits the transmission of voice, data, or video from any communication device to Public Safety Answering Points and onto emergency responder networks. This program will also support Security RD&T Strategy 1.

FTA

Identify Solutions to Improve Transit Emergency Preparedness (Improve Safety and Emergency Preparedness). Assists States, transit authorities, and the industry through safety technical assistance and improved technology and training. Research will address methods, techniques, technologies, and training to improve emergency preparedness, including a web-based approach to managing emergency incidents. This program will also support Security RD&T Strategy 1.

Crashworthiness and Occupant Protection

This critical area looks at assuring the crashworthiness of aircraft and vehicles and protecting occupants from injuries when accidents and incidents occur. The following RD&T programs will address this research area. Milestones are shown in Table 3-7.

FAA

Advanced Materials/Structural Safety. Assesses and addresses the safety implications of new and present-day composites, alloys, and other materials, and associated structures and fabrication techniques. Researchers will develop analytical and test methods to understand how design, load, and damage can affect composite structures and to develop maintenance and repair methods. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategies 1 and 3.

Aeromedical Research. Improves the safety of passengers, aircrews, and other human assets in the NAS in support of FAA’s regulatory guidelines. Research will address biodynamic crash protection, particularly the mechanisms and benefits of improved crash survival systems such as seat designs, restraint systems, airbags, and other advanced safety technology. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategies 1 and 3 and Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategy 6.

Fire Research and Safety. Develops technologies, procedures, test methods, and criteria to prevent accidents caused by hidden in-flight fires and fuel tank explosions and to improve survivability during a post-crash fire. Research will focus on near-term improvements in fire detection and suppression systems and fire-test methods and the development of criteria for interior materials. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategies 1 and 3 and the RD&T Strategy for Global Connectivity.

FHWA

Safety Research and Innovation Deployment Program (Safety R&D). Demonstrates the application of innovative highway safety technologies and supports the deployment and evaluation of these innovations. A portion of program funding will be allocated to assess roadside hardware used to mitigate crash severity. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 1.

FMCSA

Produce Safer Drivers. Ensures that commercial drivers are physically qualified, trained to perform safely, and mentally alert. One element of this research and technology program will be to enhance the use of safety belts within the trucking industry. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 1.

FRA

Railroad System Issues. Provides for research in railroad systems safety for equipment and track, railroad systems, and locomotives. In this area, the program will address passenger car fire safety. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 1 and Security RD&T Strategies 1 and 2.

Train Occupant Protection. Conducts research on locomotive and passenger car safety. The program will emphasize research on rail car crashworthiness, including crash energy management designs for both single and bi-level rail cars.

FTA

Identify Solutions to Improve Transit Safety (Improve Safety and Emergency Preparedness). Assists States, local transit authorities, and the transit industry through safety technical assistance and improved technology and training programs. Research will address such topics as the crashworthiness of light rail vehicles. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 1.

NHTSA

Human Injury Research. Applies engineering principles to the study of the tolerance of the human body to impact. The program will employ testing and computer simulation to deduce the mechanisms of injury to affected body regions and to apply understanding of these mechanisms to the development of new injury criteria, test methods, and test devices—such as automotive crash test dummies—that lead to countermeasures to reduce injury.

Safety Systems. Seeks to reduce serious injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes and to support rulemaking mandates in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. Research will identify and clarify the crash injury problem, analyze the benefits of specific countermeasures, and develop objective tests for countermeasures offering the greatest safety benefits. With the advent of new technologies it will be possible to approach safety countermeasure development in an integrated fashion from crash prevention to severity reduction and crash protection.

Assess Impacts of New Technologies, Vehicles, Concepts, Designs, and Procedures

Safety

  • Understand and Address Causal Factors and Risks
  • Mitigate Accidents and Incidents
  • Assess New Technologies, Vehicles, Concepts, Designs, and Procedures

This RD&T strategy directly supports the regulatory missions of the Department’s operating administrations by ensuring the safety of new and emerging aircraft, vehicles, airports, commercial space operations, and digital systems. RD&T activities will support safety rulemaking and assess advanced technologies and concepts before they are introduced into transportation operations.

Safety Rulemaking and Advanced Technologies

The following programs will directly support the Department’s responsibilities for ensuring the safety of transportation technologies, operations, and procedures. Table 3-8 shows program milestones.

FAA

Advanced Materials/Structural Safety. Assesses and addresses the safety implications of new and present-day composites, alloys, and other materials, and associated structures and fabrication techniques. Researchers will develop analytical and test methods to understand how design, load, and damage can affect composite structures and develop maintenance and repair methods. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategies 1 and 2.

Aeromedical Research. Improves the safety of passengers, aircrew, and other human assets in the NAS in support of FAA’s regulatory guidelines. In this area, the program will assess the impact of rapidly evolving medical diagnostics, treatments, and therapeutics technology on existing airman medical certification standards designed to ensure aviation safety. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategies 1 and 2 and Reduced Congestion RD&T Strategy 6.

Airport Technology Research–Safety. Develops standards and guidance material for airport design, construction, and maintenance. In particular, the program will develop guidance material for improving airport lighting and marking to help reduce surface accidents and runway incursions; for improving aircraft rescues and firefighting; and for new techniques for wildlife mitigation. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 3 and the RD&T Strategy for Global Connectivity.

Atmospheric Hazards/Digital System Safety. Reduces aviation’s vulnerability to in-flight icing and other atmospheric hazards. Researchers will develop and test technologies to detect frozen contamination, predict anti-icing fluid failure, and ensure safe operations in atmospheric icing conditions; develop technologies and advisory and guidance materials to ensure safe operation in electromagnetic hazards; and ensure the safe operation of emerging, highly complex software-based digital flight controls and avionics systems. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 1.

Commercial Space Transportation. Ensures safety of the public during a commercial launch or re-entry activity and encourages, facilitates, and promotes U.S. commercial space transportation. The program will research the operations and maintenance activities of reusable launch vehicle developers, providing information that will be valuable in developing commercial human space flight safety regulations.

Fire Research and Safety. Develops technologies, procedures, test methods, and criteria to prevent accidents caused by hidden in-flight fires and fuel tank explosions and to improve survivability during a post-crash fire. The program will focus on near-term improvements in aircraft fuel tank explosion protection, fire detection and suppression systems, and interior materials fire-test methods and criteria, as well as long-range research to develop the enabling technology for ultra-fireresistant cabin materials. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategies 1 and 2 and the RD&T Strategy for Global Connectivity.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research. Investigates current technological capabilities to sense potential traffic conflicts. Research will determine system characteristics and limitations to enable see-and-avoid capabilities; review safety implications of system impediments to command, control, and communications; assess data concerning flight termination systems; and evaluate historical and current technology development. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 1.

FMCSA

Improve Safety of Commercial Motor Vehicles. Focuses on improving truck and bus performance through vehicle-based safety technologies and developing new data and information to improve overall commercial vehicle safety. The program will involve research, testing, and deployment of onboard safety technologies that will decrease commercial-vehicle-related fatalities and injuries and improve commercial motor carrier, vehicle, and driver safety and performance. This program will also support Safety RD&T Strategy 1.

NHTSA

Advanced Technologies Research. Systematically evaluates new safety technologies in real-world crash scenarios. The program will conduct research, testing, and analysis of new technologies and develop deployment strategies. (This activity will be funded through other NHTSA RD&T programs.)

Hydrogen Initiative. Seeks to ensure that hydrogen internal combustion engine and fuel-cell-powered vehicles attain a level of safety comparable to other vehicles. NHTSA will conduct risk assessments of hydrogen-fueled vehicles to quantify potential failures that could indicate unsafe conditions. This program will also support Environmental Stewardship RD&T Strategy 1.

Plastic and Composite Vehicles. In partnership with industry, develops an automotive safety roadmap for incorporating plastics and composite materials into automotive designs. (This project will be completed in FY 2006.)

RITA

Hydrogen R&D. Supports the President’s Hydrogen Initiative through work with other agencies to evaluate hydrogen delivery infrastructure concepts, transportation and vehicle fuel system containers and components, and in-service inspection technologies. The program will support the development of appropriate consensus codes and standards. This program will also support Environmental Stewardship RD&T Strategy 1.