Researchers in KTC’s Traffic & Safety group focus on mitigating crash frequency and severity. The group collaborates with federal, state, and local agencies, including the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Adopting a multidisciplinary approach, researchers investigate topics ranging from commercial vehicle safety and seatbelt usage rates to improving traffic signage and understanding how climate change and severe weather events impact critical infrastructure. Each year, Traffic & Safety compiles annual crash data reports for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and they have been a key player in collecting data and performing analysis for the FHWA’s Highway Safety Improvement Program. Researchers draw on fieldwork and advanced geospatial analysis to devise strategies that will reduce crash frequencies and severities and lead to the construction and operation of safer roads. Traffic & Safety researchers have been pioneers in applying Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to traffic safety issues, and have provided guidance to the FHWA on best practices for using GIS to advance highway safety. Leveraging its multidisciplinary expertise, group members investigate a wide range of topics, from commercial vehicle safety and seatbelt usage rates, to improving traffic signage and studying the effects of climate change and severe meteorological hazards on critical infrastructure. More recently, the section has been a national leader in the implementation of the Highway Safety Manual — a science-based approach to highway safety.

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Featured Project: Safety Performance Function (SPF-R) Tool

Transportation agencies use safety performance functions (SPFs) to develop crash predictions. Several resources are available to facilitate SPF development, including the Highway Safety Manual and the FHWA’s Safety Toolbox. The latter now contains a free and customizable tool — SPF-R — which KTC developed in RStudio. SPF-R is more flexible and provides better analysis than similar tools, but the user interface can be challenging to navigate for those without a background in programming. To solve this problem, KTC is developing a graphical user interface (GUI) to interact with RStudio’s code so that users can interact with the program through controls such as dropdown lists and radio button controls. State transportation agencies in Kentucky, Iowa, New York, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington state have expressed interest in the GUI as they are beginning to develop SPF for their roadways and intersections. The GUI will open up SPF development to agency staff without traditional programming knowledge. Click here to visit the web version of SPF-R, where you can develop safety performance functions (SPFs).

Crash Data Analysis (CDAT) Tool

CDAT tool logo

Click on the crashtool website to watch a short introductory video, or access the query tool, import tool, or QC tool.

Snow and Ice Removal Route Optimization in Kentucky

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spends $40-80 million per year on snow and ice removal and road treatment. KTC researchers used GIS-based tools to identify routing for trucks and show where more or fewer trucks were needed. While high traffic routes will always receive the highest priority, optimizing the routing system can improve efficiency, increase safety, and reduce the amount of time and funding needed to treat roadways during winter storms. The analysis was based on a typical winter storm of one inch of snowfall. KTC’s route tree concept structured each removal route around a central high priority road, allowing truck drivers to become familiar with the roads on their route. As a result, drivers will react better to a non-typical winter storm and they understand the safest and most effective way to treat the roads, treat all routes on schedule, and use fewer trucks in the process. This project was selected by the AASHTO Region 2 states as one of four High Value Research projects for that region, and was included in the Sweet 16 projects highlighted at the summer meeting of the AASHTO Research Advisory Committee and at the 2019 TRB Annual Meeting. Click here to read the full report.

Research In Progress

Recently Completed Projects

Traffic & Safety Faculty & Staff

Eric Green

Program Manager

(859) 257-2680

Chris Blackden

Research Associate


Benjamin Blandford

Senior Research Scientist


Tony Fields

Research Scientist

Emma Gregory

Research Scientist

Erin Lammers-Staats

Research Engineer II

(859) 218-0379

Len O'Connell

Research Associate

Paul Ross

Senior Research Scientist

(859) 257-9077

Reg Souleyrette

Associated Faculty

CE Professor

(859) 257-5309

William Staats

Research Engineer

(859) 257-7254

Nick Stamatiadis

Associated Faculty

CE Professor

(859) 257-8012

Nathaniel Swallom

Research Scientist

(859) 562-3017

Teng (Alex) Wang

Research Scientist

Xu Zhang

Research Scientist