Ongoing ESITAC Research
A RESEARCH FRAMEWORK FOR STUDYING TRANSIT BUS DRIVER DISTRACTION
PI: Kelwyn A. D'Souza and Sharad K. Maheshwari
Summary: Hampton University’s Eastern Seaboard Intermodal Transportation Applications Center (ESITAC) conducted an exploratory study on bus driver distraction at Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) to identify sources of driver distraction and the risks associated while engaging in potential distracting tasks. Analysis of accidents has found driver distraction to be a significant cause of accidents on the highways. Hence, studying the causes of driver distraction that impact its risk level is needed for an overall understanding of accident occurrences. There is general scarcity of research in this field; therefore, no established research framework to study transit driver distractions is available. However, to conduct and implement a driver distraction study in other bus transit agencies, it would be helpful to develop a standard framework for data collection, analysis, and prediction of driver distraction under various conditions. The proposed framework would provide guidelines for distraction studies for wide range of cost and time intervals such as a quick, low cost study like analysis of existing accident databases to relatively higher cost, longer duration study like field data collection and statistical modeling and analysis. The framework would also include statistical and simulation tools to assess and validate the historical or empirical results.
This ESITAC project proposes to formulate a research framework for data collection, analysis, modeling and predicting driver distraction that could be used by other transit agencies. The framework will be based on the careful modifications and revisions of the research work conducted at HRT. Data from other transit agencies in the Commonwealth of Virginia is anticipated and would possibly be utilized in development of this framework. The framework will include procedures for studying driver distraction at transit agencies, a standard taxonomy of distracting activities and their classification, modeling of high risk distracting activities to analyze driver characteristics and external factors, and tools for validating and predicting distraction levels.
The major deliverable from the proposed research will include a research framework consisting of the following modules for studying driver distraction at any transit agency:
- Standardized data collection processes.
- List of possible sources of distraction.
- Method of classifying risk activities.
- Techniques to model and analyze risky activities.
- Methods to validate the model results.
- Guidelines to use results for development of policy and procedures.
- Guidelines to select an appropriate distraction study method.
INVESTIGATION OF FINE PARTICULATE MATTER, NOx and TROPOSPHERIC OZONE TRANSPORT AROUND A MAJOR ROADWAY
PI: Ates Akyurtlu and Jale Akyurtlu
Summary: In a collaborative effort sponsored by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), regulators, researchers, and consultants identified and prioritized the research needs for the transportation community. With respect to PM, monitoring near highways was identified as of the highest basic research priority, and evaluating hot-spot models for PM was identified as of the highest ‘applied research’ priority. These recommendations are parallel to the proposals by EPA which may require metropolitan planning organizations (MPO’s) and departments of transportation (DOT’s) to estimate the impacts of transportation projects near roadways. However, available modeling tools have not been evaluated with the PM monitoring data, since such data to perform hot-spot modeling are not available. Therefore, near-roadway monitoring of PM is essential for spatial hot-spot modeling to aid the state DOT’s and MPO’s in their estimations of the impact of transportation projects. This activity will also contribute to the improvement of the hot-spot models.
Through their reactions in the atmosphere, nitrogen oxides from vehicular emissions lead to the production of a complex mixture of chemicals, which can further transform into secondary aerosols that increase the particulate matter (PM) content of the ambient air. Particulate matter (PM) is a complex mixture of organic and inorganic matter that is present in the atmosphere as liquid droplets and solid particles. About 15% of particulate matter is produced by transportation activity and about 24 % of the total PM10 emitted by all sources in US is PM2.5. Seventy two per cent of the transportation-related PM2.5 emissions are due to diesel vehicles. Ten per cent of the nonroad emissions are due to marine mobile sources and 7 % is attributed to each of railroads and aircraft. The National Ambient Air Quality Standards for PM2.5 are set at 15.0 μg/m3 as the annual standard and 35 μg/m3 as the 24-hour standard; and for PM10, 150 μg/m3 as the 24-hour standard. EPA finalized guidance on PM hotspot modeling on December 20, 2010, and initiated a two-year grace period before these new requirements become mandatory.
Therefore, in this project, it is proposed to do simultaneous NOx, O3, and PM measurements. These simultaneous measurements will enable better prediction of the pollutant concentrations by existing models; and will facilitate the validation of the interactive chemistry between those compounds cited in literature. Thus, this project will address two research priorities identified for the transportation community, namely, pollutant monitoring near roadways and evaluation of the hot-spot dispersion models. Thus, it will help Virginia Department of Transportation (and ultimately, the US Department of Transportation) to develop on-road estimates for state implementation plans (SIPs) and regional and project-level transportation conformity analysis.
INVESTIGATION OF CORROSION AND OTHER DETEREORATION EFFECTS IN HIGHWAY BRIDGE COMPONENTS USING NON-DESTRUCTIVE TESTING TECHNOLOGY OF ACOUSTIC EMISSION
PI: Devendra S. Parmar
The degradation of civil infrastructure is an ongoing problem in terms of not only structural engineering but in maintenance planning as well. The major dilemma for bridge owners is detecting the degradation of the structure, and effective planning with regards to maintenance, repair, rehabilitation, or replacement. This difficulty increases when the structure becomes difficult to inspect due to access restrictions or discontinuities that cannot be seen visually. Despite these challenges, it has been shown that nondestructive tests and monitoring can help assess the condition of the bridge so that informed decisions regarding maintenance can be made. The rising demand for ensuring the integrity and performance of our nation’s bridges that are usually subjected to severe environmental effects require inspection for evaluation of their structural conditions. A combination of load and corrosion loss is the main cause of deterioration in both concrete and steel bridges. For concrete bridges in long-term service, the degradation caused by corrosion of reinforcement due to chloride ingress and concrete cracking is the major problem. The rate of deterioration is unpredictable in both materials. Thus, the danger to motorists and the economic consequences that the failure of a bridge would create is self evident.
Improvement in safety of the nation’s transportation network is U. S. DOT’s stated priority. Highways are vital components of the transportation infrastructure. Thus safety of highway bridges is crucial for improving the safety of the nation’s transportation network. In a technologically advanced nation like ours, it is imperative to conduct research and utilize technologies that enhance highway bridge safety for achievement of such goals. Research on and utilization of non-destructive test and monitoring technologies is one of the focus areas in ESITAC’s strategic planning. It is thus proposed to utilize non-destructive testing technology (NDT), in collaboration with VDOT’s District Structure and Bridge Engineering Department and its research arm the Virginia Center of Transportation Innovation and Research (VCTIR), for accurate, reliable and durable methods to investigate degradation mechanisms of highway bridges and to help take remedial measures to prevent spread of degradation.
There are concrete beam and steel girder bridges in the state of Virginia. There is an inherent need and interest by researchers to have a better understanding regarding the failure process for this type of bridge, and subsequently, the desire to improve and enhance the ability to inspect these types of bridge structures. Thus the purpose of this proposal is to illustrate how the use of acoustic emission (AE) monitoring can provide real-time information regarding the structural integrity of the girders and pillars on the bridge while in use.
Our previous AE studies on bridges such as the one on Coastguard Blvd. in Portsmouth, VA and the ongoing investigations on the bridge at Denbigh Blvd. have provided a comfortable basis on the utility of AE technology for real time investigations without the affecting the traffic flow. In the proposed studies, we plan to focus specifically on corrosion aspects of the degradation even as we continue to establish the role of freight traffic movement under a bridge on bridge structural components. Accordingly, for the period of 2012 - 2013, a potential test bridge like Virginia Structure No. 2222, Federal Structure ID 20727 in Newport News, Virginia (Figure 1), will be studied in consultations and discussions with Virginia Council for Transportation Innovation and Research (VCTIR) and VDOT’s District Structure and Bridge Engineering Department.