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Howard University center to study traffic safety and crashes with D.C. Vision Zero grant

Totaling more than $3.7 million, the grant will fund a five-year research program

A sign and building on Howard University’s campus
UIG via Getty Images

A team of researchers at Howard University’s Transportation Research Center, part of the school’s engineering and architecture college, will study D.C. traffic crashes and potential safety improvements over the course of five years, thanks to an official grant from the city.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has awarded the center a $3.75 million grant through D.C.’s Vision Zero initiative, which is aimed at eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2024. In a release, Howard says the center—led by associate professor Stephen Arhin—will “obtain, manage and analyze traffic crash data for DDOT.” The center will also do research on the agency’s “Connected Vehicles Initiative,” which is designed to examine “emerging methods of allowing drivers to communicate with other drivers and vehicles, along with road infrastructure and cloud technology,” according to the release.

In studying traffic-calming and safety measures in the area, the center will provide Howard students exposure to “real-world engineering problems,” the school says, pointing out that the results of the research will be incorporated into classes and seminars. Arhin’s academic work, says Achille Messac, the dean of the engineering and architecture college, “helps us envision a future where vehicles and drivers communicate and interact on the road well beyond the visual means of today.” The Transportation Research Center launched in 1998.

The awarding of the grant comes after a year when D.C. saw an spike in traffic deaths: 34 people—including pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and a scooter-rider—died in 2018 crashes. The District has established a dedicated Vision Zero office in part to address these fatalities.