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Updated 10:00 AM October 16, 2006




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Transportation center to study safety and mobility

The U-M Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) has won a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish a new center for research.

The University Transportation Center (UTC) will support basic and applied research programs to improve safety and mobility for young people and older adults, with a strong emphasis on advanced research.

Expected accomplishments over the three-year grant period include providing matching support for research projects that attract students into the transportation field. "Both young people and older adults present unique safety and mobility challenges," says UTC Director David Eby, research associate professor at UMTRI.

"The U-M's UTC will examine the risks related to these two ends of the age spectrum, across the dimensions of the roadway, vehicle and driver.

"We'll focus on understanding the changing perceptual, cognitive and psychomotor abilities of older drivers, the transportation needs of young people and older adults, and the elevated crash risk of young drivers.

"The U.S. DOT University Transportation Centers are recognized internationally as centers of excellence, fully integrated within institutions of higher learning. They serve as a vital source of leaders who are prepared to meet the nation's need for safe, efficient and environmentally sound movement of people and goods.

"This is a phenomenal opportunity to partner with the U.S. Department of Transportation and to involve more of the unique strengths of the University of Michigan schools and colleges in highway safety research," says UMTRI Director Peter Sweatman.

Sweatman will chair a UTC advisory board of executive stakeholders from the auto industry and other businesses, government agencies and community groups.

A core group of U-M faculty will teach courses and collaborate on research, and UMTRI staff members will administer the grant.

An executive committee comprising UMTRI researchers and University faculty from across campus will provide guidance on UTC activities.

The project is funded through the Office of Innovation, Research, and Education, a division of the Research and Special Programs Administration of the DOT.

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