From Illinois Business Journal news services
EDWARDSVILLE – Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Engineering researchers are receiving national praise for their work to reduce fatalities and injuries involving roadside incident responders through the creation of safety training materials.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has named their project, “Development of a Highway Incident Management Operational and Training Guide: Phase II,” a Sweet 16 High Value Research project for 2015.
“We are proud that our hard work is being recognized for such an honor,” said Ryan Fries (left), associate professor and graduate program director in the SIUE School of Engineering. “The scenes of traffic incidents are vulnerable places for responders, and the safety of fire and rescue personnel, law enforcement officials and motorists is well worth protecting.”
Project participants from SIUE included Fries, Yuliang Liu, professor of instructional technology in the Department of Educational Leadership, and alumni Michael Williamson BS’10 MS’11, Yuhui Qu MS’14 and Patrick Gu BS ’09. Also collaborating on the project was Huaguo Zhou, associate professor at Auburn University.
The authors of the two-phased project worked closely with the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Center for Transportation. Phase II of the program created online modules to supplement in-class training, which was developed in Phase I.
According to Fries, as of April 2015, more than 3,000 incident first responders have been trained using the materials he and his team developed. The Federal Highway Administration has fully endorsed the project for use at the national level.
“The training program brings together the collective wisdom of several different agencies that did not always train together,” Fries explained. “The material in our training helps IDOT employees understand the roles of other responders more clearly and helps responders from other disciplines understand the basic principles of communicating with traffic.”
As a result of this training, researchers say the general public will likely experience consistent lane closures at incident scenes. Drivers may also benefit from more advanced warning of closed roads.
The “Development of a Highway Incident Management Operational and Training Guide: Phase II” project will be featured in the Sweet 16 High Value Research poster session at the 2016 Transportation Research Board meeting in January. The meeting attracts more than 12,000 transportation researchers worldwide.