The University Record, October 1, 2001

Michael Sivak—Distinguished Research Scientist Award

Sivak (Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)
Michael Sivak’s research on visual perception and human factors related to driving is extraordinary for its scientific quality, practical importance, and global influence on transportation safety. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute’s (UMTRI) Human Factors Division, which he has directed since 1993, is an international leader in automotive safety due, in large measure, to his dynamic leadership.

Dr. Sivak, a senior research scientist and member of the faculty since 1976, is one of the world’s dominant researchers in the area of driver vision. He has made important contributions to our understanding of driving-related perceptual problems of the elderly and remediation of perceptual deficits in drivers suffering from brain damage, as well as cross-cultural differences in risk-taking, the relative risks of flying and driving and the role of aggression in traffic accidents.

Dr. Sivak’s discoveries regarding visual perception and driver performance have contributed to important breakthroughs, including the center high-mounted stop lamp, which is becoming a worldwide standard and has significantly reduced rear-end accidents. He also led an international effort to harmonize the design of headlamps, attempting to combine the best aspects of headlamp designs in Europe and the United States. He is a co-inventor on a patent for a fast-onset brake-lamp system.

In 1987, he created an extraordinarily fruitful mechanism for the support of basic and applied research—the Industry Affiliation Program for Human Factors in Transportation Safety—which is currently supported by forty domestic and foreign companies. In addition to producing more than one hundred technical reports and refereed publications, the program has brought several international visiting scholars to Michigan, enhancing the quality of work done at UMTRI and boosting the University’s international reputation.

Frequently invited to give keynote addresses at international conferences, Dr. Sivak also has served on the editorial boards of Accident Analysis and Prevention and Transportation Human Factors and is a reviewer for Applied Ergonomics, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Ergonomics, Human Factors, and the Journal of Gerontology.

In recognition of his scholarly contributions to visual perception and human factors research and to vehicle safety worldwide, as well as his administrative leadership, the University of Michigan proudly presents to Michael Sivak its Distinguished Research Scientist Award.