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Transportation 2.0: Upgrading Our Transportation System

January 29, 2014 Comments off

Transportation 2.0: Upgrading Our Transportation System
Source: Texas Transportation Institute

Inside This Issue:

  • Transportation 2.0: Upgrade to Avoid System Crashes
  • TTI and TRB: Across the Years
  • Improved Data Collection for Improved Mobility
  • Estimating Economic Impacts for Policymakers
  • Meeting Future Texas Bridge-Building Requirements
  • Transportation Research Challenges
  • Using New Technologies to Solve Old Problems
  • Getting Information to Drivers to Improve Awareness, Safety
  • Improving Border-Crossing Wait Times
  • TTI’s New Policy Research Center to Facilitate Innovation
  • Advisory Council Meeting Focuses on New Center
  • Railroad Pioneer Inducted into Hall of Honor
  • TTI News
  • TTI Publications
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Voice-To-Text Apps Offer No Driving Safety Benefit; As With Manual Texting, Reaction Times Double

April 25, 2013 Comments off

Voice-To-Text Apps Offer No Driving Safety Benefit; As With Manual Texting, Reaction Times Double
Source: Texas Transportation Institute

Texting drivers may believe they’re being more careful when they use the voice-to-text method, but new research findings suggest that those applications offer no real safety advantage over manual texting.

The study was sponsored by the Southwest Region University Transportation Center and conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). SWUTC is a part of the University Transportation Centers Program, which is a federally-funded program administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration.

The study is the first of its kind, as it is based on the performance of 43 research participants driving an actual vehicle on a closed course. Other research efforts have evaluated manual versus voice-activated tasks using devices installed in a vehicle, but the TTI analysis is the first to compare voice-to-text and manual texting on a handheld device in an actual driving environment.

Drivers first navigated the course without any use of cell phones. Each driver then traveled the course three more times performing a series of texting exercises – once using each of two voice-to-text applications (Siri® for the iPhone and Vlingo® for Android), and once texting manually. Researchers then measured the time it took each driver to complete the tasks, and also noted how long it took for the drivers to respond to a light which came on at random intervals during the exercises.

Major findings from the study included:

  • Driver response times were significantly delayed no matter which texting method was used. In each case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren’t texting. With slower reaction times, drivers are less able to take action in response to sudden roadway hazards, such as a swerving vehicle or a pedestrian in the street.
  • The amount of time that drivers spent looking at the roadway ahead was significantly less when they were texting, no matter which texting method was used.
  • For most tasks, manual texting required slightly less time than the voice-to-text method, but driver performance was roughly the same with both.
  • Drivers felt less safe when they were texting, but felt safer when using a voice-to-text application than when texting manually, even though driving performance suffered equally with both methods.

As Traffic Jams Worsen, Commuters Allowing Extra Time for Urgent Trips

February 5, 2013 Comments off

As Traffic Jams Worsen, Commuters Allowing Extra Time for Urgent Trips
Source: Texas Transportation Institute (Texas A&M University)

As traffic congestion continues to worsen, the time required for a given trip becomes more unpredictable, and researchers now have a way to measure that degree of unreliability, introduced for the first time as part of the annual Urban Mobility Report (UMR), published by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI).

The Planning Time Index (PTI), a measure of travel reliability, illustrates the amount of extra time needed to arrive on time for higher priority events, such as an airline departure, just-in-time shipments, medical appointments or especially important social commitments. If the PTI for a particular trip is 3.00, a traveler would allow 60 minutes for a trip that typically takes 20 minutes when few cars are on the road. Allowing for a PTI of 3.00 would ensure on-time arrival 19 out of 20 times.

PTIs on freeways vary widely across the nation, from 1.31 (about nine extra minutes for a trip that takes 30 minutes in light traffic) in Pensacola, Florida, to 5.72 (almost three hours for that same half-hour trip) in Washington, D.C., according to the study by TTI, a member of The Texas A&M University System.


Rankings of the nation’s most congested cities vary slightly from year to year, and many of this year’s top 10 are repeat performers. Washington, D.C. tops the list, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, New York-Newark and Boston. The second five include Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle. The report provides a detailed illustration of traffic problems in a total of 498 U.S. urban areas.

In addition to PTI, the 2012 UMR also debuts an estimate of the additional carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions attributed to traffic congestion: 56 billion pounds – about 380 pounds per auto commuter.

Community Design and the Incidence of Crashes Involving Pedestrians and Motorists Aged 75 and Older

June 12, 2012 Comments off

Community Design and the Incidence of Crashes Involving Pedestrians and Motorists Aged 75 and Older (PDF)
Source: Texas Transportation Institute

Contemporary community design practice has focused on strategies intended to make communities safe for families with children. Comparatively little attention has been given to its effects on older adults. This study employs a series of negative binomial regression models to understand how urban form may affect the incidence of total and killed-or-severely-injured (KSI) crashes involving older drivers and pedestrians. Intersections, strip commercial uses, big-box stores, and arterial thoroughfares pose crash hazards for older motorists, while big-box stores and arterials are problematic for older pedestrians. A network of lower-speed streets was found to be associated with reductions in crashes involving older motorists and pedestrians.

See: Strip Malls and Big Box Stores Linked to Increased Traffic Deaths Among Seniors (Atlantic Cities)

New Study Says Texting Doubles a Driver’s Reaction Time

October 24, 2011 Comments off

New Study Says Texting Doubles a Driver’s Reaction Time
Source: Texas Transportation Institute

Researchers at the Texas Transportation Institute have determined that a driver’s reaction time is doubled when distracted by reading or sending a text message. The study reveals how the texting impairment is even greater than many experts believed, and demonstrates how texting drivers are less able to react to sudden roadway hazards.

The study – the first published work in the U.S. to examine texting while driving in an actual driving environment – consisted of three major steps. First, participants typed a story of their choice (usually a simple fairy tale) and also read and answered questions related to another story, both on their smart phone in a laboratory setting. Each participant then navigated a test-track course involving both an open section and a section lined by construction barrels. Drivers first drove the course without texting, then repeated both lab tasks separately while driving through the course again. Throughout the test-track exercise, each participant’s reaction time to a periodic flashing light was recorded.

Reaction times with no texting activity were typically between one and two seconds. Reaction times while texting, however, were at least three to four seconds. Worse yet, drivers were more than 11 times more likely to miss the flashing light altogether when they were texting. The researchers say that the study findings extend to other driving distractions that involve reading or writing, such as checking e-mail or Facebook.

+ Full Report (PDF)

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