Safety Career Pathways Spotlight
On this page you will find examples of safety career pathways. These spotlights highlight the Safety Center’s multi-disciplinary stakeholder group.
State Safety Operations Engineer at ALDOT (Timothy Barnett, P.E., PTOE) Assistant Professor with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Tribal Management Program (Byron Bluehorse) Director of the Louisiana Local Technical Assistance Program (Marie Walsh) Traffic Liaison Engineer in Highway Safety and Traffic at MoDOT (John Miller, P.E.) Executive Director at South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (Jennifer Marandino) Transportation Division Manager for the City of Gresham, Oregon (Chris Strong, P.E.) Traffic Engineering and Operations Manager for Thurston County in Washington (Scott Davis) Traffic Safety Program Manager for Clackamas County in Oregon (Joseph Marek) Law Enforcement Liaison for the New York State’s Highway Safety Office – the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (Anthony D’Agostino) Director of the National Center for Rural Road Safety and Executive Director of the Western Transportation Institute (Steve Albert)
State Safety Operations Engineer at ALDOT (Timothy Barnett, P.E., PTOE)
Timothy E. Barnett, P.E., PTOE, is the State Safety Operations Engineer for the Alabama Department of Transportation. Even a quick glance at Tim’s background will illustrate his commitment to roadway safety. From an early age, he cultivated an interest in traffic engineering due to his involvement in a minor intersection crash at the age of twelve. Later that month, he was assigned a social studies project for school and chose “Improving Safety at an Intersection” as the topic. Tim developed an alternative design and operation for the intersection where the crash occurred, and his design led to several meetings with city and ALDOT officials. Subsequently, the city’s Transportation Director offered him a job when he turned 16. At that age, Tim took the city Transportation Director up on his employment offer and began a career with the City of Huntsville, Alabama while attending college. He ultimately became their Traffic Engineer. After twenty years with Huntsville, Tim joined the Alabama Department of Transportation as a Right-of-Way Engineer and later took a position as a Highway Design Engineer. About seven years ago, the ALDOT Chief Engineer asked him to lead the newly formed Office of Safety Operations, where he works to advance roadway safety on all roadways throughout Alabama, through planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operations of the roadway system.
Tim’s career focuses on traffic operations and traffic safety at the federal, state, and local levels. He holds a B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Tim maintains a professional engineer’s license in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi and is a certified Professional Traffic Operations Engineer.
Since Tim’s career started at the local level, he understands the importance of providing assistance, training, and opportunities for local roadway safety workers. With the numerous demands on local agencies, roadway safety is often not given the same priority as other critical issues, such as bridges and road maintenance. To help advance safety at the local level, Tim identified the need to implement opportunities for local agencies to learn from state and national roadway safety experts. In addition to one-on-one consulting with local agencies, Tim hosts an annual Rural Road Safety Conference and Workshop. The conference location is a serene rural state park lodge with a spectacular view along the Tennessee River. Approximately 125 participants learn and discuss topics as varied as low cost safety measures, rural roundabout design, and safety management legal aspects. The isolated location provides relaxed and positive opportunities for continuous networking and interaction during meals and the evening hours. The event’s target audience includes county and small city/town engineers; the conference agenda varies from year-to-year to keep the conference fresh. Speakers include federal professionals with expertise on safety countermeasures and state and local engineers and consultants who work in areas that effect roadway safety. The ALDOT Traffic & Safety Operations Section leads the successful Rural Road Safety Conference and Workshop, with Stuart Manson, P.E., Safety Systems Engineer from the Traffic & Safety Operations Section, heading up the agenda development. The event is coordinated with assistance from the Alabama LTAP at Auburn University.
In addition to response and resolution of highway safety concerns on the Alabama public roadway system, he is responsible for managing the implementation of the Highway Safety Manual, Highway Safety Improvement Program, and other safety activities for ALDOT. Tim is a Fellow of ITE, and a member of ASCE, ASEM, and IMSA.
Tim is a dedicated and respected professional with a reputation extending far beyond his home state. Consequently, he is often recruited to serve on AASHTO and TRB Committees, Panels, and Working Groups, speak at statewide and national conferences, and participate in peer exchanges. Among other things, he is making numerous contributions to road safety workforce development in a field where formal multidisciplinary, multimodal road safety training and education are nonexistent at present.
We asked Tim if he could share one sentiment with the safety community, what would that sentiment be? “In most states the majority of severe crashes occur on rural roads. These crashes have common typologies where simple safety countermeasures applications can effectively and efficiently reduce crash occurrence and severity. Generally, persons with local level road safety responsibility are deeply committed to community safety, and it is only a lack of knowledge that prevents safety countermeasure implementation. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” To that end, I have always placed a high priority on knowledge advancement and transfer amongst my colleagues and friends.”
Assistant Professor with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Tribal Management Program (Byron Bluehorse)
Byron Bluehorse is an Assistant Professor with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Tribal Management Program. Byron is also the manager of the Alaska Tribal Technical Assistance Program, whose mission is to help tribes become aware of the significance of tribal transportation issues through education and training, to help tribes define transportation systems that enhance community and economic development, promote desired land use, protect cultural resources, to orient and coordinate federal, state and local governments, and maximize efficient use of indigenous transportation resources.
Byron Bluehorse is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in University Studies and a master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of New Mexico. From 1993-1997, Byron served in the U.S. Marine Corps, an experience which led him to Japan, Panama, and the Philippines. After receiving an honorable discharge, Byron returned home to New Mexico to pursue a higher education. While in graduate school, Byron served as an AmeriCorps volunteer where he helped to establish the University of New Mexico Tribal Service Corps. Byron’s past employment experience includes the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. Forest Service, Resource Center for Raza Planning and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). After moving to Alaska in 2005, Byron began working as a Contracts and Grants Specialist for the BIA. In this capacity, he provided technical assistance in the area of P.L. 93-638 Indian Self-Determination contracting to tribal entities in the Interior and Arctic Slope regions. Byron currently lives in Fairbanks and is a member of the American Planning Association.
Becoming involved in safety
While working for the Alaska Tribal Technical Assistance Program Center (AKTTAP), Byron met many Tribal planners who were passionate about shedding light on the need for more safety opportunities. Those mentors opened his eyes to the safety arena. AKTTAP eventually hosted a Regional Safety Summit, which many Tribal Governments participated in, to raise awareness of available opportunities and technology to improve and develop new programs. They also worked with several Tribes to develop safety plans. AKTTAP also held a peer-to-peer safety workshop session where they utilized Tribal input to create a safety website where Tribes can access numerous resources.
Byron shared an example of a safety activity that he has been involved with that he feels could be a best practice for others. He has participated in several Road Safety Audit (RSA) teams, one of which led to a report in which he served as lead author. Byron shared that being a part of these teams has opened my eyes to the history, process, and benefits of an RSA. He strongly encourages anyone interested in RSAs to take RSA training and participate in an RSA audit. Such opportunities provided him with a better understanding of the built environment and the movement of people. He also developed a greater appreciation for low-cost options such as roadway reconfiguration, also known as Road Diets.
One recommendation that Byron would like to share with the safety community is to listen to your clients and the community, as they have the local knowledge of the roads that they drive daily and can add valuable insight to safety concerns. Quantitative data can help, but gathering local knowledge and stories increases greater success to find and implementing counter measures that could be used.
Director of the Louisiana Local Technical Assistance Program (Marie Walsh)
Marie B. Walsh is the Director of the Louisiana Local Technical Assistance Program at the Louisiana Transportation Research Center. Marie has been a member of the Stakeholder Team since the inception of the National Center for Rural Road Safety and a long time local road safety advocate.
Marie began her professional career in the environmental engineering field, and was involved with the environmental auditing and systems management field nationally before moving to the Louisiana Department of Environment Quality (LDEQ.) At the LDEQ she managed the Technical Services Program of the Air Quality Division. Performing a wide variety of tasks ranging from intensive emissions data collection and analysis, emissions inventory development, tracking compliance performance measures, outreach and training to industrial and governmental organizations, and coordination with other parts of the LDEQ and with the Environmental Protection Agency. Marie recalls maintaining the technical library for the department and began working on electronic information resources before the internet was popularized.
Looking back, Marie believes that now we would call the work of the Technical Services Program a “multi-disciplinary,” data driven approach to reducing toxic air emissions. We worked to improve and expand federal, state and local data collection to ensure that critical data elements were available to allow better problem identification and mitigation strategies. Extensive outreach and education of industry and community groups was necessary. Providing technical, data-laden information in a usable form to diverse user groups was a constant challenge. The parallels between that job and today’s safety initiatives have become more apparent over time. But to Marie, safety has remained more challenging, and certainly more interesting.
The challenges involved with improving the processes that supported the functions of the Technical Services Program led Marie back to LSU where she began a PhD program in Human Resource Education and Work Force Development; structuring her coursework so she could learn about business process re-engineering and improvement, performance management, organizational development, leadership training, and workforce development.
Marie’s link to the LTAP program evolved through her work with the East Baton Rouge (EBR) City Parish in the Quality and Employee Development Department. She was familiar with the LTAP Program through her work with the EBR Public Works, where they had often hosted LTAP classes in their training facility. Marie was fortunate enough to hear about the Director position and was hired at LTAP 2004.
Marie shares how she become involved in safety as it relates to the transportation field.
“I attended my first TRB meeting in January of 2004, five days after I started with LTAP. I went to every session that remotely related to local roads, low volume roads, safety and workforce development. The safety ones were the most interesting and compelling. I returned to Baton Rouge with questions as to why Louisiana did not have a local roads safety program and closer to home, why our Louisiana LTAP didn’t teach road safety classes or offer safety technical assistance. When hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated Louisiana in 2005 the LA DOTD was working on the first comprehensive Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). LTAP represented the locals (who were swamped with disaster recovery efforts) at the SHSP meetings. When the Local Road Safety Program was proposed for inclusion in the SHSP a leader was needed. Seeing the opportunity I volunteered and committed LTAP resources as well. My safety focus really began here. Through the following years I shamelessly advocated for inclusion of the local roads in Louisiana’s safety programs and over times the Local Road Safety Program has moved closer to being integrated with the other state and local safety efforts.”
“My work with our DOT safety office led to my participation in TRB and AASHTO Safety Committees and I am currently a member of the TRB ANB10 Transportation Safety Management Committee and chair its Towards Zero Death Subcommittee. I’ve participated in the national TZD Steering Committee as the NLTAPA Representative and also been the NLTAPA liaison to the AASHTO Safety Committees. When I was elected President of NLTAPA I promoted increased participation by all LTAPs in safety and made it a central focus of my leadership efforts.”
We’ve asked Marie to share an example of a safety activity that she has been involved with that may be a best practice for others.
The Louisiana Local Road Safety Program in partnership with the DOT Safety Office has implemented processes to improve the quantity, quality and accessibility of local road crash, roadway characteristic and volume data. While not finished, excellent crash data is available in almost every part of the state and they are working on the other components. Using the data that is available they have prepared Crash Data Profiles for all 64 parishes. Concentrating on the top twenty (out of 64) parishes, where the vast majority of serious and fatal road crashes occur, they conducted training with the locals on the use of the parish profiles to identify priorities and develop road safety projects for application for funding or local implementation. These profiles are the basis for local road safety plans and are consistent with the process to select projects in the HSIP which is important for sustainability.
Marie leaves us with some practical thoughts- “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have. It’s amazing what you can do in safety if you just get started. Each of these simple steps will lead local practitioners to a higher level of safety involvement and access to resources. Local and rural road safety has come a long way in the last 12 years. There are more people willing to help you and more resources than ever available. While money may be in short supply, it’s often not the lack of finances that limit the success of beginning or even established safety programs. It’s just as likely to be a lack of interest, understanding or commitment that impedes progress.”
Traffic Liaison Engineer in Highway Safety and Traffic at MoDOT (John Miller, P.E.)
The National Center for Rural Road Safety would like to introduce you to our Stakeholder Team member John P. Miller, P.E.. John is the Traffic Liaison Engineer in Highway Safety and Traffic for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and is their former Traffic Safety Engineer.
We interviewed John recently to learn more about what has motivated him to be involved in transportation safety and to share his thoughts with you.
Safety Center: John, please give some of your personal history, a little biography if you will:
JM: I want to begin by indicating I am honored to have been selected to serve as a Safety Stakeholder Group member. Rural road safety is very important to me and is a critical part of our effort to drive down roadway fatalities. Growing up on a farm in rural Missouri allowed me to understand dedication, devotion, commitment, and community as well as the importance of a vast transportation system.
This transportation system allowed cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers, children, my spouse, and my parents to attend a very special occasion â€“ my grandmother celebrated her 106th birthday. My family has always been very close and much of this is directly tied to our rural upbringing. This transportation system has also involved a fatality of a cousin on a rural Missouri road. It also has changed the life of another due to a drinking involved crash. Rural roadway safety is very important and everyone plays a role.
Safety Center: Could you tell us a little about how you become involved in safety as it relates to the transportation field?
JM: While I have been directly linked to roadway safety due to personal situations, I have to say it was mostly due to my work in the Traffic Division of MoDOT that led me down this career path. My first experience in safety was related to the reviewing of traffic crash reports and determining corrective action. I found the work to be very interesting and even rewarding knowing you were making a positive difference with safety projects you are implementing.
Eventually I was given an opportunity to manage the traffic and safety areas of our Transportation Management Systems (TMS).Â TMS is a data system that ties our crash, roadway, bridge, roadsides, and other data elements by a common referencing system. This system has allowed us to make decisions based on what the data is telling us and it has allowed me to have a better understanding of safety. I believe it is a vital element in any safety professional’s career to have a data background.
Prior to my current position, I served as the state’s Traffic Safety Engineer. This leadership position involved a great deal of public involvement and speaking opportunities at both the state and national level. It involved moving numerous safety initiatives forward using systemic safety analysis to determine opportunity locations for implementation. It involved being a team player while serving on numerous teams including Data Driven Safety Analysis member for FHWA, Missouri LTAP Advisory Committee, AASHTO Subcommittee on Safety Management, and various NCHRP research initiatives. The position also involved implementation of the Highway Safety Manual (HSM) within MoDOT.
My current position involves management of the safety section (includes the Traffic Safety Engineer position) as well as signing, marking, access and other various areas in the office of Highway Safety and Traffic. I am also involved with behavioral safety issues working closely with the Highway Safety Director â€“ changing traffic safety culture is vital to bringing down roadway fatalities.
I also want to add that I am very fortunate to have a safety mentor to help me stay the path, Dr. Tom Welch (former State Safety Engineer from Iowa DOT). Tom has always been very helpful and has provided positive guidance over the years, especially when I first began my role as the Traffic Safety Engineer. He always said the State Safety Engineer position at the DOT is the best position to have and he is correct very rewarding to put in place so many safety initiatives that make a difference.
Safety Center: John, please share an example of a safety activity that you have been involved with, or one that you feel could be a best practice for others?
JM: I want to continue to promote systemic safety analysis and project implementation. I really believe that much of the success we have had in our state relates to our analysis methods and ultimately treatment of like situations and locations. For instance, much of our traffic crash issues relate to roadway departure. We used our data to identify a system of roads that share characteristics and treat them all with a safety countermeasure. The easiest example of how we used systemic safety analysis relates to cross-median type crashes and installation of median guard cable. We evaluated our divided roadways and learned early on that spot treatments would not eliminate this devastating crash type. If the situation was similar just down the road, then why not treat it as well. That method has since translated into other safety initiatives and thousands of miles of safety countermeasures installed.
I also want to share a data area best practice. Since 2002, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has shared the same crash data system with MoDOT. We are very fortunate that we were able to make this work as it has eliminated any duplication of effort. It has also allowed us to improve our data quality over time since we work closely on data issues. I highly recommend other states emulate this successful effort.
Safety Center: If you could share one sentiment with, or make one comment to, the safety community, what would it be?
JM: I was reminded recently of a quote I gave at a conference once to describe our roadway visibility improvements in Missouri. I said, we want our roads to look like runways to motorists. In other words, we want to provide visibility features like bright stripes and reflective tabs to assist drivers in all driving conditions, especially when it may be dark and rainy where is becomes very difficult for drivers. These are some of the lowest cost safety countermeasures we can do, but they may make the difference.
Ultimately, it will take everyone for us to get to zero fatalities. You cannot do this alone, so reach out to your peers and share your ideas and countermeasures that are working. And finally, live safety by changing your own culture. If you speed, slow down. If you talk on the phone, stop (even using Bluetooth). If you aren’t using the seatbelt, well I’ll just stop there. I hope this is a good read.
Executive Director at South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (Jennifer Marandino)
Jennifer Marandino is the Executive Director of the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO).
Mrs. Marandino began with SJTPO in March of 2011, previously serving as Team Leader of Capital Programming and Safety, where she managed the regions Local Safety Program as well as the $10 million Local Leads Program. Prior to her working at SJTPO, Mrs. Marandino worked in the traffic and transportation engineering field for 10 years. She has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University and Master of Science in Transportation from New Jersey Institute of Technology. She is a member of International Transportation Engineers (ITE) and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of New Jersey.
Although her first job out of college was in the transportation field, it wasn’t until she began working at SJTPO in 2011 that safety became one of her passions. Jennifer reminisced that one of the first job tasks she was assigned at SJTPO was to utilize the Highway Safety Manual to support proposed signal improvements at a local intersection near the office. She remembers that “the Manual was only recently released and I needed to use the safety predictions to justify spending federal Highway Safety Improvement Program funding on the proposed improvement. It turns out that I made a few errors in my analysis, but the local jurisdiction received their federal funding and the intersection was upgraded with pedestrian enhancements next to a high school. I was intrigued that safety performance could be quantified in a way that had not previously existed and it could now be given more consideration against capacity and level of service”.
SJTPO is unique in its dual focus to safety; taking an active role is both the behavioral and infrastructure side of safety. SJTPO has had a long-standing commitment to traffic safety, as an early adopter of an award-winning Road Safety Audit Program, the first Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in New Jersey to use the Highway Safety Manual (HMS) to determine the benefit of a safety improvement, and through the development of a robust Traffic Safety Outreach and Education Program, dating back to 1998. Most of all, Jennifer is proud to say that SJTPO has been flexible with their approach to safety.
The MPO currently takes a very active role working with their subregional partners, beginning with project development through to authorization of safety dollars. Jennifer notes “we realized that our partners are unable to exclusively dedicate time and resources to safety, so we have administered technical studies or completed tasks in house to help with this effort; whether it be data collection, scope development, or safety benefit analysis. All our efforts are geared to moving a project through to implementation”.
When asked for some insight on carrying the safety message forward, Jennifer provided us with the following sentiments: “Everyone has a role in safety, everyone must work together for us to achieve zero fatalities on our roadways. As an engineer, my role is to improve the safety of our roadways and intersections through improvements to our infrastructure. And those infrastructure improvements can be simply adding a low-cost countermeasure to a resurfacing project already planned. At the MPO we are working with our subregional partners to fund those improvements but also with the public to make sure they are aware of the small acts that they can do that might have an impact on improving safety”.
Outside of her work in safety, Jennifer enjoys volunteering her time to the school her daughter attends and serves on the planning committee for her town’s community day. She is a 10-year veteran of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-day, where she has raised over $25,000 and walked over 600 miles. Jennifer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transportation Division Manager for the City of Gresham, Oregon (Chris Strong, P.E.)
The Safety Center would like to introduce Stakeholder Team Member Chris Strong, who is the Transportation Division Manager for the city of Gresham, Oregon. Chris is a civil engineer with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Texas at Austin, respectively. He has been in the transportation field for over 20 years spanning planning, engineering, research, and management. His previous positions include working for a metropolitan planning organization, a consulting firm, the Western Transportation Institute (WTI), and another municipal government. He is a registered professional engineer in both Oregon and Wisconsin.
A little bit about Chris’ personal life: he and his wife Sunny have been married 13 years and are blessed with four children whom they homeschool. Chris is also an adult leader for his sons’ Trail Life USA troop, and he enjoys long-distance running as a hobby.
Chris first became involved in safety during his time at WTI, where he led or supported various research projects related to how highway safety overlapped with severe weather and the role that technology solutions could play in reducing crash rates. He served as program manager for operations and safety, where they grappled with not only local safety issues, but the higher fatality rates that exist systematically in rural environments. At this time, Chris came to recognize that improving roadway design can help with safety outcomes, but that alone will not be sufficient to really move the needle on safety. After his tenure at WTI, Chris oversaw traffic engineering for two small/medium cities, where each fatal or severe crash takes on a more personal level for the community.
We asked Chris to share an example of a safety activity that he has been involved with, or one that he feels could be a best practice for others. “In my municipal government experience, I have found it very helpful to collaborate with local law enforcement, especially in terms of two-way communication about issues that we are seeing with roadway safety. I benefit in learning from their field observations as well as in understanding the constraints and challenges of their jobs. I have also found it important to leverage the crash data we have, in order to better understand the crashes that are happening. Finally, I have found it helpful to look at the stories behind the individual crashes from more of a human interest level. I owe it to the victims of these crashes to understand what contributed to these crashes, and what if anything could be done to avoid replicating them.”
Chris believes that road safety is a profoundly personal issue for those who have suffered loss. He says that starting from a position of empathy helps all those involved in the safety community to identify ways we can work better together and embrace the outside-the-box thinking needed for improving rural road safety.
Traffic Engineering and Operations Manager for Thurston County in Washington (Scott Davis)
Scott Davis is the most recent of our Stakeholder Team members to be featured in our spotlight. Scott is currently the Chair of the National Association of County Engineers’ (NACE) Safety and Technology Committee- a group that has been working hand in hand with the Center to develop and conduct educational opportunities for not only NACE members, but the safety community at large.
Scott, who lives with his wife and two daughters in the pacific northwest, is the Traffic Engineering and Operations Manager for Thurston County in Washington. He became interested in safety partly because it is part of his professional responsibilities as a county traffic engineer, but he says this coincided with the with the birth of his first daughter. Scott shares that “driving a small infant home for the first time made me reflect upon on how I drive, the impact of my behavior to others and mostly importantly the health and welfare of my family. This reflection also led me to re-think priorities and focus at work and truly led me down a different and safer path.” His work with Louisiana Local Technical Assistance Program Director and former National Local Technical Assistance Program Association (NLTAPA) President, Marie Walsh, further entrenched him in the safety community. Marie also serves on the Center’s Stakeholder Group. The involvement of representatives from organizations such as NACE and NLTAPA with the Center has proved to be a successful partnership in promoting safety on rural roads- often with a grass roots approach and often to small local and tribal agencies. For this type of work, Scott has been recognized with the David P. Brand Safety Award by the National Association of County Engineers (2018).
For more than two decades, Scott has worked with the Washington DOT and LTAP programs to provide training and support for local road safety plans. He has been instrumental in the development of the systemic safety approach to identifying road safety improvements in Washington. This activity has become a best practice model for other local governments, especially as Scott shares the experience of developing and administering local road safety plans with the LTAP, NACE, and Safety Center audiences around the country through webinars and workshops. Scott believes creating local road safety plans are the single most effective activity he recommends others emulate. In this light, Scott has been a key part of the NACE and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Local Road Safety Plan Pilot Program, which is the roll out of a blended learning training program that results in a hands on workshop for counties to develop actual local road safety plans.
The efforts of Scott’s safety initiatives in Thurston County are evident. He led the design and delivery for many safety upgrades including warning signs, wide edge lines, rumble strips, new guardrail, intersection lane narrowings, pedestrian improvements, and traffic signal upgrades. He also was the Project Engineer for speed limit studies on more than 25 roads, traffic calming studies for 20 neighborhoods, helped develop their ADA transition plan, and facilitated a partnership with the county prosecutor’s office and the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to procure and deploy radar speed signs at high priority locations. This involvement demonstrates Scott’s commitment to Thurston County, Washington State, the organizations he serves, and the safety community.
Traffic Safety Program Manager for Clackamas County in Oregon (Joseph Marek)
This issue, we are happy to introduce our readers to Stakeholder Team member Joseph Marek. Joe is the Traffic Safety Program Manager for Clackamas County, Oregon and we are happy to have him on board as a county agency representative.
Joe has always had a love of transportation and it was only fitting that he became a transportation engineer after pursuing a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Idaho. He enjoys all modes of transportation- walking, biking, motorcycling, even horseback riding! Using all of these different modes has certainly helped diversify his perspective as a designer.
His career with Clackamas County began nearly 28 years ago after some time spent in consulting. While he has always been interested in safety, it started to progressively increase after he assumed the role as Staff Liaison for the Clackamas County Traffic Safety Commission in the mid-1990’s. This group helped sharpen his focus on safety. Joe says “safety resonated with me due to a severe crash that my family was in when I was very young resulting in severe injuries to my parents.” One of his most important career achievements was leading the effort at Clackamas County to develop a Transportation Safety Action Plan in 2012.
The safety program has grown at the County to where there is now a Traffic Safety Program with its own budget line and there are County-wide performance measures associated with fatalities that are reported quarterly. Joe shared with us that he has “…an incredible team of professionals that I work with that help get all of the good work done”.
The Safety Center asked Joe if he would share an example of a safety activity that he was involved with, or one that could be a best practice for others.Joe makes three suggestions that can really allow an individual to help make a positive impact on local road safety –
- Leading the effort for a Transportation Safety Action Plan
- Participating in a road safety audit
- Sharing traffic safety efforts at community meetings
We also asked Joe if he could share one sentiment with the safety community, what would it be? He gives us this food for thought: “Traffic Safety starts with you! As I do my work I believe that everyone deserves to get home safely to their family every night. I can set a good example by being a safe user of the transportation system regardless of my mode of choice. Also, I believe it is very important not to be judgmental about people since we do not know their situation when a crash occurs. People do not wake up in the morning with the intention of being in a crash. When we look at our own transportation system, we need to think about it from the user’s perspective and, for a moment, cast aside our knowledge of standards to imagine what the road is not communicating to a driver that may be a contributing cause to a crash. Then, we can better figure out what we can do to improve it. Lastly, sometimes what we do might not work and it’s ok to admit that and make changes”.
Law Enforcement Liaison for the New York State’s Highway Safety Office – the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (Anthony D’Agostino)
The National Center for Rural Road Safety would like to introduce you to Anthony D’Agostino. Anthony is serving on our stakeholder committee and is a Law Enforcement Liaison (LEL) working for the New York State’s Highway Safety Office – the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC). He is assigned there by the New York State Sheriffs’ Association (NYSSA). Anthony worked for the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office for 25 years prior to retiring in 2015 to accept the LEL position.
The law enforcement liaison position provides an excellent pathway for Anthony and others across the country to support highway safety initiatives. The LEL program, supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA), offers a framework for states to have individuals in their highway safety office that enhance communications with law enforcement agencies, ensure greater coordination of crash reduction activities statewide, and coordinate training to increase the knowledge and skills of other highway safety professionals.
Having seen the results of dangerous driving first-hand as an officer, Anthony welcomed his new role in highway safety eagerly with hopes to help make a difference. He remembers the notifications he made to families of crash victims and wants to see less of those visits occur.
One of Anthony’s goals at the GTSC is to make sure rural road safety is considered when highway safety plans are being made. Those plans may include the delivery of teen driver crash reduction educational materials to rural high schools and grant proposal training to Sheriff’s Offices and Police Departments that are outside of the cities. In 2017, Anthony coordinated the first New York State Slow Moving Vehicle Symposium hosted by the NYSSA with grant funding from GTSC. The symposium was an enormous success. There were over 90 attendees from all walks of life: agriculture was represented by the NY Farm Bureau and individual farmers; law enforcement was represented by 20 police agencies; construction was represented by people from county highway departments and public works departments; there were even representatives from the Amish community present. The focus was on ways to reduce crashes involving slow moving vehicles and how to better spread the “Share the Road” message. The 2nd NYS SMV Symposium is scheduled for March 2019.
Anthony has also jumped into the highway safety world on a larger scale in an effort to share what NY is doing to save lives and bring back fresh ideas to the NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. In addition to the National Center for Rural Road Safety’s Stakeholder Group, he sits on the National Sheriffs’ Association’s Traffic Safety Committee. Anthony and Sheriff Ron Spike (Yates County, NY) attended and presented at the 2nd National Summit on Rural Road Safety.
Anthony would like people to have a greater appreciation for the loss of life due to motor vehicle crashes. He reminds us that in 2017, there were 37,133 people killed in vehicle crashes in the United States. That is equivalent to 185 planes carrying 200 passengers each crashing…in just one year. If a plane crashed every two days we as a nation would be horrified and stop at nothing to end the devastation. One hundred people died every day in car crashes in 2017. Are we all shocked and disgusted at the loss of life that occurs on our roadways? Can we do more to prevent crashes and save lives?
Director of the National Center for Rural Road Safety and Executive Director of the Western Transportation Institute (Steve Albert)
In this spotlight, we are highlighting a very special stakeholder: Steve Albert, the Safety Center’s Director. Steve has served as the Director of the Safety Center since its launch in 2014, and he has led the Western Transportation Institute (WTI), which is the lead agency managing the Center, for 23 years. This summer, Steve will retire from WTI following a nearly 40-year career in transportation.
Steve started his career working on urban transportation issues in some of the most automobile-centric regions of the United States, from HOV lanes in Houston to ITS corridor deployments around Washington, DC to traffic management in Southern California. When we asked him how he got to Bozeman, Montana, where WTI is headquartered, he said, “it was love for Yellowstone National Park that romanced me to Montana and launched my transportation career on a new trajectory: rural.”
The Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University became a reality in 1996, and Steve became Executive Director shortly thereafter. One of his main goals was to elevate rural needs at the federal level and secure large-scale federal grants to address critical rural needs – especially safety. At a time when Intelligent Transportation Systems were only being deployed in urban areas, Steve pioneered the development and use of ITS systems for rural roads, including traveler information systems, surface condition monitoring, and automated dynamic message signs. He also promoted a holistic approach by expanding WTI into a multi-disciplinary research center that could address and integrate the many factors that affect safety – not just the design of the road itself, but also the impact of surrounding environment, weather, available technology, maintenance and operations issues, and driver behavior.
We asked Steve about the biggest challenges he has faced while trying to enhance rural safety, and he said that “for many years, it was difficult to convince people in urban areas that improving the rural transportation network was a good investment. It’s taken a long time to raise public awareness that safe rural roads enable coast-to-coast personal and recreational travel for everyone, as well as commercial transport to every corner of the country – they are absolutely critical for a vibrant national economy.”
Finally, we wanted to know about Steve’s proudest accomplishment. He explained that “when we were first getting WTI off the ground, we had only two staff people and two engineers. Twenty years later, WTI is a strong and established research center, with the expertise and resources to lead important efforts like the Safety Center, which is putting proven solutions into the hands of local road managers every day. By working with a lot of other committed transportation stakeholders from around the country, we have created institutions, tools, and partnerships that can continue to improve mobility and safety for many years to come.”