Transportation Safety

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From airplanes and driverless cars to school buses and the conditions of roads, bridges, and transportation systems, the issue of transportation safety affects everyone. RAND research examines insurance liability and corporate and government policies, as well as how the three interact to promote safety on the ground, at sea, and in the air.

  • A map of the continental United States is shown with lines representing COVID-19 importation risk

    Project

    Tracking the Spread of COVID-19 with Air Travel Data

    Jun 5, 2020

    As the pandemic enters a new phase, punctuated by emerging hot spots and continuing global spread, a new RAND tool lets policymakers predict regional risks of importing cases of COVID-19.

  • Illustration of smart transportation, people and vehicles moving in city streets using sensors, photo by elenabsl/Adobe Stock

    Report

    When Can Automated Vehicles Be Considered Safe Enough?

    Oct 29, 2020

    Establishing whether automated vehicles are acceptably safe is not straightforward, and continual technology development adds complication. Agreeing on the approaches to assess AV safety and improving communication about safety are important for building and sustaining public trust.

Explore Transportation Safety

  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    How to Get the Biggest Impact from an Increase in Spending on Traffic Safety

    According to analysis with a free new tool, allocating increased federal traffic safety funding by cost-effectiveness ratios rather than equally among states would save more than double the number of lives and prevent almost five times the injuries.

    Dec 14, 2015

  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    A New Tool to Help Decisionmakers Select Interventions to Reduce Traffic Crash Deaths and Injuries

    This brief describes an interactive tool that can help statedecisionmakers choose policies that are effective in reducing motor vehicle accidents in their states and appropriate to state budgets, saving lives and reducing economic and societal loss.

    Dec 14, 2015

  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    Should Traffic Crash Interventions Be Selected Nationally or State by State?

    According to analysis using a new, free tool, a national allocation of funds for traffic crash prevention might cost less than allocating according to state-by-state needs, but it might save significantly fewer lives and reduce far fewer injuries.

    Dec 14, 2015

  • Glass of beer, car keys, and crumpled Colorado license plate

    Research Brief

    Which Behavioral Interventions Are Most Cost-Effective in Reducing Drunk Driving?

    Different states have different needs when it comes to drunk driving interventions. Given limited budgets, how can policymakers know which available policies would reduce the most drunk driving-related deaths for their implementation dollars?

    Dec 14, 2015

  • Motorcycle and cars on a highway

    Report

    Using Cost-Effectiveness Analysis to Prioritize Spending on Traffic Safety

    In deciding how to allocate funds targeting traffic safety, policymakers must determine the appropriate trade-off between cost-effectiveness and equity among states. A new tool helps determine the most cost-effective interventions to reduce motor vehicle crash-related injuries and deaths.

    Dec 14, 2015

  • Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller gives a tour of the VW factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, October 21, 2015

    Commentary

    When Public Trust in Corporations Is Shaken

    The Volkswagen scandal comes at a time when the public's trust in both the automotive industry and tech companies is at risk. The level of public trust in an individual organization could end up burnishing — or infecting — an entire industry or new technology.

    Oct 28, 2015

  • Commercial truck driving down the highway at night

    Report

    Evaluating the Impact of Whole-Body Vibration (WBV) on Fatigue and the Implications for Driver Safety

    Summarizes findings from a review of the literature on whole-body vibration (WBV) and fatigue, in addition to looking at study designs and methodology for providing more rigorous investigations of the impact of WBV on fatigue and driver safety.

    Oct 22, 2015

  • Police officer standing outside his vehicle

    Journal Article

    Police Officers Face Risk of Traffic Injuries Under Many Conditions

    Vehicle crashes are the largest cause of death among police in the United States. Knowing the risk factors can help law enforcement agencies take steps to lower the risk of injury collisions, such as restricting motorcycle use to situations where the use of other vehicles is not feasible.

    Sep 14, 2015

  • A car dashboard computer

    Commentary

    Learning to Stop Worrying and Love the Internet of Things

    Late last month, Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.4 million cars to fix a defect that allowed hackers to imperil drivers from afar. In essence, what was considered a huge threat was converted into a solved or at least solvable problem.

    Aug 4, 2015

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Legal Accelerators and Brakes for Deployment of Automated Vehicles

    This chapter will review three questions that prompted discussion at the 2014 Symposium on Vehicle Automation as potential accelerators or brakes for deployment of automated vehicles.

    Feb 20, 2015

  • The Mercedes-Benz F015 Luxury in Motion autonomous concept car is shown on stage during the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 5, 2015

    Commentary

    To Hit the Road, Driverless Cars Must Be Safe, Not Perfect

    Once driverless cars are safer than the average human driver, they should be allowed to hit the road. Indeed, waiting for autonomous vehicles to be perfect would be its own safety concern because it would mean the needless perpetuation of the risks posed by human drivers.

    Jan 29, 2015

  • Events @ RAND Audio Podcast

    Multimedia

    Self-Driving Vehicles

    At this October 2014 event at RAND, information scientist Nidhi Kalra discusses the social, environmental, and policy implications of driverless cars.

    Oct 28, 2014

  • Young woman texting in car

    Commentary

    What if Distracted Driving Was Safe?

    According to consumer research, the ability to consume media, write an email, or even sleep during transport is a key selling point for self-driving cars, which could be available in the near future. Autonomous vehicle technology could also produce a wide range of public benefits.

    Jul 1, 2014

  • car interior with a dashboard computer

    Commentary

    Sounding the Car Alarm on Hackers

    Security protections on vehicles have not kept pace with systems that control safety features, navigation capabilities, and wireless communication functions. Onboard computer networks will likely become much more attractive to hackers.

    Jun 30, 2014

  • South Korean divers operate at the site where the capsized passenger ship Sewol sank in the sea off Jindo April 20, 2014

    Commentary

    Death Is Never Far When You Are at Sea

    The U.S. marine safety record is impressive, arguably the best in the world. Yet, as the heartbreaking example of the Sewol demonstrates, the United States must never become complacent.

    May 12, 2014

  • News Release

    News Release

    Self-Driving Vehicles Offer Potential Benefits, Policy Challenges for Lawmakers

    Self-driving vehicles offer the promise of significant benefits to society, but raise several policy challenges, including the need to update insurance liability regulations and privacy concerns such as who will control the data generated by this technology.

    Jan 6, 2014

  • One of Google's self-driving cars picturesd in a parking lot.

    Research Brief

    How to Best Realize the Social Benefits of Autonomous Vehicle Technology

    The auto industry has been moving toward more autonomous vehicles for years. Policymakers could benefit from an examination of the technological advances in this area, their benefits and risks, and the potential effects of various regulations — as well as the absence of regulation — on the development of this technology.

    Jan 6, 2014

  • Hudson Line derailment recovery operations in New York

    Commentary

    Deadly Aftermath of 'Microsleep'

    Though “microsleep,” commonly referred to as “highway hypnosis,” may enter the public discourse most often when it's cited as the possible cause of a disaster like the Metro-North train wreck, it is responsible for fatal accidents on American highways every day.

    Dec 12, 2013

  • boys exiting a school bus

    Commentary

    America's Great Yellow School Buses

    One of the things taken for granted in the United States is the vast network of school buses—about 26 million children ride 480,000 buses every day. But in other parts of the world, getting millions of children to and from the right school, on time, safely, and for a reasonable cost is a significant challenge.

    Sep 9, 2013

  • A traveler walks through a metal detector at a security check point in John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, February, 29, 2012

    Report

    After Four Decades, It's Time for a Fundamental Review of Aviation Security

    Budgetary constraints, heavy passenger loads, and popular hostility toward screening procedures are all challenges to securing commercial aviation. After 40 years of focus on tactical measures, it is time for a sweeping review of aviation security.

    Aug 29, 2012