The Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) handed out three centennial road safety awards at its 2014 Conference & Exhibition in Montreal, Quebec.
Tarek Sayed, Melanie Nolan (for Jeanette Espie) and Ezra Hauer accept their awards from Doug McNeil (left) and Vern Janz (right)
Created to celebrate progress in the field of road safety over the past 100 years in Canada, at the request of TAC’s Road Safety Standing Committee, the awards in the following categories were presented:
Awards were presented by TAC Acting President and Deputy Minister of Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation, Doug McNeil and Vern Janz, Director of Transport Services, Yukon Highways and Public Works, and Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators Chair (Partner of the Centennial Road Safety Awards).
Dr. Tarek Sayed, Civil Engineer Professor at the University of British Columbia was presented with the Academic Research Centennial Road Safety Award.
Dr. Sayed is well-known for his research combining road safety and intelligent transportation systems. His proactive approach reduces the need for collision data and offers a better understanding of collision-avoidance behaviours of road users.
“Most of the current research on road safety focuses on statistical techniques to model collisions and evaluate safety countermeasures,” noted Dr. Sayed. “Statistical analysis is an integral and important part of safety research; however, a better understanding of the problem is required. The automated road user analysis tools that we are developing at UBC provide detailed microscopic behaviour data of road users (trajectories, speed and acceleration profiles). This spatiotemporal data enables road safety analysis at a much higher spatial and temporal resolution than any current techniques in use.”
Dr. Sayed’s work on automated road safety analysis using video sensors is being applied in six countries.
"Novel techniques offer a solution that can revolutionize how traffic safety if managed - enabling the detection of collision risk without the need for collisions to occur, thereby solving the dilemma that there must be a trade of lives lost for lives saved. Safety professionnals can analyze and improve the safety of a roadway without the need for collision data."
An honourable mention in the Academic Research category was also given to Dr. Claire Laberge-Nadeau, University of Montreal. Dr. Nadeau created the Transportation Safety Laboratory at the University.
Jeanette Espie, Retired Executive Director, Office of Traffic Safety, Alberta Transportation was the recipient of the Public Sector Centennial Road Safety Award.
Ms. Espie developed the Alberta Traffic Plan, consisting of legislative, enforcement, community mobilization, engineering, education and public awareness initiatives. The research in support of the Plan's strategies generated a decline in collisions, positive changes in driver habits and increased road safety awareness. Over the past four years, traffic fatalities have dropped by nearly 32 per cent.
“A comprehensive strategy was developed that included the continuous input and commitment from key stakeholders, other government departments, and Alberta communities,” explained Jeanette. “Through our data we were able to target Alberta traffic safety vulnerabilities and relied on international best practices that had been implemented successfully. By involving stakeholders from enforcement, education, engineering and health at the community level, we were able to use approaches to address specific community issues.”
According to Jeanette, the most challenging aspect was keeping stakeholders committed and engaged over a sustained period of time, with many competing issues within their own disciplines and communities.
“We were able to accomplish this by involving them in a wide variety of subject matter expert groups, using traffic safety plans targeted at the local level. This allowed stakeholders to identify and address issues within their own communities.”
Finally, Dr. Ezra Hauer, Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto was presented with the Outstanding Career Centennial Road Safety Award.
As a teacher, researcher, and consultant, Dr. Hauer brings scientific rigour and practical understanding to the highway safety field. He has translated complex statistical theory into techniques that have revolutionized research and practice in highway safety. His work has contributed significantly to the introduction of a science-based approach in safety analysis.
Dr. Hauer believes that transportation engineers are somewhat accountable for the safety of the travelling public.
“By their design and operational decisions, transportation engineers affect the future safety of the road system, “explained Dr. Hauer. “They have a duty to know what the safety consequences of their decisions are, and should not hesitate to bring this evidence to the table. Two problems arise. First, they have little training in road safety and only seldom can describe the safety repercussions of their decisions. Second, most work for or depend on agencies that hesitate to tell the public how the choices they make translate into loss of limb and life. In the real world, we are far from the desideratum.”
The 2015 TAC Conference & Exhibition will be held in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, from September 27-30. The theme, Getting you there Safely, has been established as a nod to the fact that 2015 marks the midpoint in the United Nations Decade of Action on Road Safety.