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.

  • Commentary

    Grounded: The FAA Alert System Failure Could Be a Wake-Up Call

    It turned out to be a system failure that grounded thousands of flights on January 11, but U.S. critical infrastructure faces a range of threats—from Russian hackers, to weather events, to angry individuals with guns. The government and organizations responsible for critical infrastructure can take steps to actively manage these risks.

    Jan 13, 2023

  • Commentary

    Ohio's Train Derailment—Not Spy Balloons—Is the Real National Security Threat

    The slow degradation of infrastructure and disaster response is less a spectacle than an overflying balloon, but the train derailment and chemical spill in Ohio highlights just how bizarre such a focus on perceived external national security threats has become. The far greater threat may be from within.

    Feb 20, 2023

Explore Transportation Safety

  • 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

  • Report

    Report

    Qatar's School Transportation System: Supporting Safety, Efficiency, and Service Quality (Arabic-language version)

    Assesses stakeholder perspectives on Qatar's school transportation system (STS), identifies a vision and goals for the STS, and discusses strategies to achieve the vision and better align Qatar's STS with international norms. This is the Arabic-language version.

    Mar 28, 2012

  • yellow school bus

    Report

    A Vision for Qatar's School Transportation System

    Considering the challenges associated with continued growth and demographic changes, the government of Qatar is interested in updating its school transportation system (STS). This volume assesses the perspectives of parents and school administrators, identifies a vision for the STS, and discusses strategies to achieve it.

    Feb 13, 2012

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    A Risk to Themselves

    Drivers 65 and older are only 16 percent more likely per mile driven to cause a traffic accident than are drivers ages 25–64. And their total contribution to the nation's traffic accidents is surprisingly small, writes David S. Loughran.

    Oct 20, 2010

  • News Release

    News Release

    Pennsylvania's Rail System Will Require Collaborative Approach to Improve Safety and Security

    Pennsylvania leaders have an active role to play in coordinating public and private efforts to improve the safety and security of Pennsylvania's extensive and complex railroad system.

    Nov 24, 2008

  • A freight train in a rural area with a sunset background

    Report

    Pennsylvania's Rail System Will Require Collaborative Approach to Improve Safety and Security

    Pennsylvania leaders have an active role to play in coordinating public and private efforts to improve the safety and security of Pennsylvania's extensive and complex railroad system.

    Nov 10, 2008

  • Periodical

    Periodical

    RAND Review, Spring 2008: Baby Steps

    The Spring 2008 issue of RAND Review compares neonatal services across the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, and Sweden, discusses water resources management, U.S. policies in Asia, and political polarization.

    Apr 19, 2008

  • News Release

    News Release

    Senior Drivers Less Likely than Youngest Drivers to Cause Accidents

    RAND Study Finds Senior Drivers Less Likely than Youngest Drivers to Cause Accidents.

    Jul 18, 2007

  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    What Risks Do Older Drivers Pose to Traffic Safety?

    This research brief summarizes a study that concludes older drivers are relatively safe and that targeting restrictive licensing policies at that group will do little to improve overall traffic safety.

    Jul 11, 2007

  • Report

    Report

    Senior Drivers Less Likely than Youngest Drivers to Cause Accidents

    Drivers 65 and older are just one-third as likely as drivers 15 to 24 to cause auto accidents, and not much more likely than drivers 25 to 64 to cause accidents.

    Jul 6, 2007

  • Report

    Report

    Estimating the Accident Risk of Older Drivers

    As the U.S. population ages, so will the population of licensed drivers. This report investigates how this aging will likely affect traffic safety.

    Jul 3, 2007

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    The Population Consumption Model, Alcohol Control Practices, and Alcohol-Related Traffic Fatalities

    More than 40% of urban traffic fatalities are alcohol related and the rate of such fatalities varies more than 10-fold across U.S. cities.

    Jan 1, 2002

  • Report

    Report

    Safety in the Skies: Personnel and Parties in NTSB Aviation Accident Investigations

    In this report, RAND outlines a comprehensive set of recommendations intended to help the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) strengthen the party process, create a more expansive statement of causation, modernize investigative procedures, streamline internal operating procedures, better manage resources, maintain a strategic view of staffing, streamline training practices, improve facilities for engineering and training.

    Jan 1, 2000