NIOSH conducts and funds projects covering work-related motor vehicle safety involving law enforcement, fleet safety, the oil and gas extraction industry, and emergency responders, among other topics. Explore the tabs below to learn about our current projects:

Motor Vehicle Safety Initiative

This project coordinates the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety, with the primary goal to advance prevention of motor vehicle-related incidents among workers across all industry sectors. Currently the project focuses on the following NIOSH efforts: disseminating and implementing the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety strategic plan for 2020-2029; supporting the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) goals related to work-related motor vehicle safety; and supporting complementary initiatives by partner organizations to promote work-related motor vehicle safety.

Project Contact: Rosa L Rodríguez-Acosta, Ph.D.
Division of Safety Research
Project Period: 2004-2029

Contribution of in-vehicle monitoring systems (IVMS) to driver safety in OGE

This research project will help to better understand the contributions of in-vehicle monitoring systems (IVMS) to driver safety and motor vehicle crash (MVC) reduction in the oil and gas extraction (OGE) industry. Specifically, this research will: identify driving patterns and risky driving behaviors of workers in the OGE industry, identify IVMS-recorded driving metrics and driver behaviors that are predictive of MVCs and MVC-related injuries, and identify IVMS-related fleet management practices which may be associated with both safer and more risky driving behaviors. This research project will focus on an understudied group of drivers who drive extensively for work but aren’t considered professional drivers.

Project Contact: Jennifer Bell, Ph.D.
Division of Safety Research
Project Period: 2020-2024

Effect of Vehicle Automation on Truck Driver Situation Awareness and Road Safety

This project is intended to answer some basic questions related to vehicle automation for heavy trucks. Using simulated driving, the project team will: (1) determine the minimum time required to regain situational awareness as control of the vehicle is transferred from Levels 2 and 3 automated modes back to the truck driver; and (2) evaluate the effects of Levels 2 and 3 automation on the truck driver’s situational awareness, level of distraction, and collision risk. The results have practical implications for setting criteria for the capabilities of automation sensors and driver-vehicle interfaces used in heavy trucks (for example, the minimum time required for sensors to issue a warning in time for the driver to safely re-assume control of the vehicle).

Project Contact: MD Mahmudur Rahman, Ph.D.
Division of Safety Research
Project Period: 2018-2022

Seat Belt Use among Workers Who Drive as Part of Their Job: What’s Not Clicking?

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of fatalities in the oil and gas extraction (OGE) industry, and seat belts are a proven method of reducing injuries and fatalities in the event of a crash. This project will use qualitative research methods to determine barriers to seat belt use among workers engaged in well-servicing for the oil and gas extraction industry. Through focus groups with managers/supervisors and interviews with workers, the research team will collect information on knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding seat belt use. The findings will help inform potential solutions and guide the development of new resources and strategies aimed at increasing seat belt use in this industry.

Project Contact: Rosa Rodríguez-Acosta, Ph.D.
Division of Safety Research
Project Period: 2018-2022

Improving Driver Vehicle Interface (DVI) in Police Cruisers for Operational Safety

This project will address the problem of perceptual-motor distraction triggered by drivers of patrol vehicles interacting with in-vehicle equipment, identifying design features of the driver-vehicle interface (DVI) that may contribute to driver distraction. The research has three phases: an exploratory mockup study to evaluate the relationship between police officers’ visual-manual job routines and the in-cab DVI design; digital human modelling to further examine the DVI design; and a confirmatory mockup study that will modify the original mockup layout based on results of the digital human modelling study to identify the best possible design options. These improved design options are expected to result in reduced eyes-off-the-road time, easier equipment access, and reduced visual obstruction.

Project Contact: Jinhua Guan, Ph.D.
Division of Safety Research
Project Period: 2018-2022

Evaluating an Intervention Designed to Reduce Fatigue among Taxi Drivers

The main goal of this project is to reduce fatigue among taxi drivers and other drivers-for-hire, who are at risk of fatigue-related motor vehicle crashes. These individuals work long and irregular hours and may be driving as a second job. The research has two parts: 1) the development of eLearning training on fatigue management targeting drivers-for-hire, and 2) an experimental study evaluating the effectiveness of the training, along with feedback provided to drivers through wearable activity monitors, in reducing fatigue levels. Pre- and post-module knowledge tests will be embedded in the training to measure drivers’ knowledge and attitudes about fatigue management.

Project Contact: Cammie Chaumont Menéndez, Ph.D.
Division of Safety Research
Project Period: 2018-2022

Protecting Oil Workers through Enhanced Surveillance, Exposure Assessments, and Control Evaluations

The purpose of this project is to reduce injuries, illnesses, and harmful exposures experienced by oil and gas extraction workers in the U.S.. Project components are: enhanced surveillance of fatal and nonfatal injuries, including motor vehicle crashes; systematic field-based exposure assessments to identify the potential for acute and chronic health impacts; and identification and evaluation of engineering controls, safety and health practices, and personal protective equipment used to control exposures during U.S. on-shore drilling processes.

Project Contact: Kyla Retzer
Western States Division
Project Period: 2017-2022

North American Fatigue Management Program Effectiveness (NAFMP) in Reducing Commercial Truck Driver Fatigue

This project will evaluate the effectiveness and cost benefits of the North American Fatigue Management Program (NAFMP). Results will guide future comprehensive safety initiatives, rulemaking, and programs to reduce truck driver fatigue. Study findings may lead to: (1) revisions to the format, content, and the method of delivery for the training materials in the NAFMP, (2) increased use of NAFMP by carriers and commercial vehicle drivers, and (3) driver fatigue research advancements.

Project Contact: Guang Chen, M.D.
Division of Safety Research
Project Period: 2017-2021

Fatigued and Distracted Driving in the Oil and Gas Extraction (OGE) Industry: Risk Factors and Interventions

The primary aims of this research are to describe driving practices among light duty vehicle operators in the OGE industry to gain a better understanding of factors that contribute to fatigue and distraction and ultimately crash risk; quantify and model the association of both fatigue and distraction with different job tasks, time on tasks, shift type, shift length, and work blocks; and examine how data from fatigue detection technologies correlate with data collected through other safety interventions and their relationship with driving habits and operator fatigue.

Project Contact: Edward (Ted) Hitchcock, Ph.D.
Division of Science Integration
Project Period: 2016-2025

Online Training for Law Enforcement to Reduce Risks Associated with Shift Work and Long Work Hours

This project will develop an online training program for law enforcement using expertise from police researchers and trainers. Effectiveness of the training will be assessed through a pre- and post-test pilot study using actigraphy to examine sleep and activity patterns of police officers working night shift before, immediately after, and 6 weeks after they complete the training. After training, officers will also be asked to assess the training for clarity, salience, appeal, persuasiveness, and knowledge retained.

Project Contact: Claire Caruso, Ph.D.
Division of Science Integration
Project Period: 2016-2021

Best-Practice Guidelines for Occupational Driver Safety at Intersections

The objective of this study is to develop science-based intersection-safety best-practice guidelines for occupational drivers for their safe vehicle operation at intersections. This project will fill knowledge gaps on the effects of traffic signal clearance interval, left-turn formation, and vehicle type/occupation on occupational driver decision making and thus intersection safety. Guidelines will be made available to transportation safety stakeholders, the safety research community and professional drivers through research partners and professional organizations. Information gained in this study can also benefit the general population in terms of improved signalization and evidence-based training that could be applied broadly.

Project Contact: Hongwei Hsiao, Ph.D.
Division of Safety Research
Project Period: 2014-2023

Work Organization Risks to Short-haul Truck Drivers’ Health and Safety

As a complement to the NIOSH U.S. National Survey of Long Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury, this study will investigate work organization and personal factors that contribute to health and safety outcomes in short-haul truck drivers. In addition to publishing results, the research team will develop tailored products that raise awareness of factors that present risks to short-haul drivers’ health and safety. The project is also expected to lead to future intervention evaluation research in this worker population.

Project Contact: Jeannie Nigam, Ph.D.
Division of Applied Research and Technology
Project Period: 2014-2018 (Research outputs ongoing)

Evaluation of an Occupational Motor-Vehicle Crash Prevention Program in Law Enforcement

This project is evaluating the effectiveness of a comprehensive motor-vehicle crash prevention program in a large metropolitan police department in reducing motor vehicle crashes and injuries due to such crashes. Based on the results, the project team will develop a plan to encourage other law enforcement agencies to replicate elements of the program found to be effective. Project funding is through an interagency agreement with the National Institute of Justice.

Project Contact: Hope M. Tiesman, Ph.D.
Division of Safety Research
Project Period: 2013-2019 (Research outputs ongoing)

Taxi Driver Survey on Motor Vehicle Safety and Workplace Violence

This study focuses on two of the leading causes of taxicab driver fatalities: motor vehicle crashes and workplace violence. For the motor vehicle safety component, taxi drivers in two U.S. cities respond to a survey designed to collect information on prevalence and frequency of adverse motor vehicle events and injuries, as well as road safety attitudes and behaviors. This information will allow NIOSH researchers to identify and describe the road safety risk factors and protective factors for taxicab drivers. These findings will also contribute to developing prevention initiatives for reducing work-related motor vehicle crashes among taxi drivers.

Project Contact: Cammie Chaumont Menéndez, Ph.D.
Division of Safety Research
Project Period: 2012-2019 (Research outputs ongoing)

Reducing Firefighter Vehicle Crashes: Simulation and Intervention

Excessive speed has been identified as one of the major contributing factors for fire apparatus crashes and overturns. Adapting and using advanced technologies to assist the driver in controlling the speed of fire apparatus in emergency response situations is a promising approach to reduce the risk of fire engine crashes and overturns. This study will generate scientific knowledge and identify design requirements for an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) with “Electronic Horizon” specifically targeted for fire service pumpers and tankers, using a driving simulator and virtual-reality technology. It will also assess the effects of different ADAS features and parameters on the safety performance of experienced and novice drivers during various emergency response situations and driving environments. Vehicle manufacturers and the fire service will use findings to improve the operational safety of fire apparatus.

Project Contact: Peter Simeonov, Ph.D.
Division of Safety Research
Project Period: 2012-2019 (Research outputs ongoing)

Partnering with Industry to Build Safe EMS Work Environments

This project builds on previous NIOSH research aimed at reducing or eliminating vehicle crash-related injuries and fatalities to Emergency Medical Service (EMS) workers in ambulance patient compartments. NIOSH research data will be used to directly influence changes to the General Services Administration’s federal specification for the Star-of-Life Ambulance, which governs the design of all ambulances purchased by the U.S. government and most state and local entities. Further, NIOSH is working directly with the Ambulance Manufacturers Division of the National Truck Equipment Association, which represents the builders of 90% of the ambulances built in North America, to expand the consensus safety standards for the patient compartment.

Project Contact: Jim Green
Division of Safety Research
Project Period: 2008-2019 (Research outputs ongoing)

Washington Occupational Injury and Illness Surveillance and Prevention Program

This project includes a large component for surveillance of occupational injury and illness in the trucking industry in the state of Washington. Specific aims include: (1) establish a trucking advisory group; (2) publish baseline measures of injuries, trends, and costs; (3) implement an injury surveillance system; (4) develop and implement case and employer follow up protocols; (5) conduct industry-wide surveys of employers and employees; and (6) identify opportunities for interventions to reduce hazards and injuries within trucking.

Project Contact: David Bonauto, M.D.
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
Project Period: 2010-2020

Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance

The goal of this research is to perform occupational injury and illness surveillance in Kentucky (KY), which ranks as the 14th-worst state for fatal occupational injury rates, and 7th-worst for nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses. Industries and occupations targeted in the KY Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance (KOSHS) application include highway incident management and truck transportation injury epidemiology studies and fatality investigations, online truck driver safety training modules, and towing and truck driver tool kits.

Project Contact: Terry Bunn, Ph.D.
University of Kentucky Injury Prevention Research Center
Project Period: 2005-2020

Impact of Eliminating Extended Duration Work Shifts on Resident Health and Safety

This project evaluates the effectiveness of a 16-hour limit on the number of consecutive hours that resident physicians may be scheduled to work in their first postgraduate year— a limit the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education implemented in 2011 based on a recommendation from the Institute of Medicine. Previous research showed that first year resident physicians working extended duration work shifts (>24 hours) were at increased risk of motor vehicle crashes on the commute from work. The new work-hour limit will be evaluated through nationwide surveys of interns that will collect data on work hours, sleep, and health and safety outcomes. Results may have implications for the health and safety of the more than 108,000 medical and surgical residents who are the principal providers of medical care in academic medical centers throughout the U.S.

Project contact: Laura K. Barger, Ph.D.
Harvard University
Project Period: 2013-2017

Warnings Beacons for Front Line Service Worker Safety

This project intends to improve the visual information from warning beacons used by front line service workers (FLSWs). To address crashes involving FLSWs, several integrated, multidisciplinary studies are being conducted leading to performance specifications for new-generation warning beacons using the latest sensor and light source technologies. The studies aim: (1) to identify the luminous intensity distributions of warning beacons needed to provide visible signals without creating glare under different ambient conditions to support the safety of FLSWs; (2) to identify the temporal and chromatic requirements of warning beacons to convey information about the relative speed and orientation of vehicles around which FLSWs are located; (3) to establish whether synchronizing the frequency and phase of multiple warning beacons would help drivers more quickly and accurately make appropriate decisions to reduce risk exposure of FLSWs; and (4) to confirm the findings from aims 1-3 in closed-track field studies.

Project Contact: Mark S. Rea, Ph.D.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Project Period: 2013-2017

Search for Extramural Federally-funded Projects on Motor Vehicle Safety

Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool (RePORT)external icon is a searchable database of federally funded biomedical research projects conducted at universities, hospitals, and other research institutions. The RePORT database covers research projects funded from fiscal year 1972 to the present.

More information may also be found at the NIOSH Office of Extramural Programs website.

Page last reviewed: September 22, 2020