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Changing Human Dynamics and the Future of Transportation

Published 13 Sept 2021

What kinds of transportation services would better serve our needs as human activities and interactions are increasingly taking place in a hybrid physical-virtual world? Rather than every person visiting a local store, many now shop online and have items delivered to their residence. The COVID-19 pandemic also changed in-person education to online and work commuting to teleworking almost overnight. With changing human dynamics enabled by modern technologies, it is important to rethink the role of transportation and what the best transportation systems and services should be in the future. One of Dr. Shih-Lung Shaw’s research interests focuses on gaining insights into the changing human dynamics to help design smarter transportation systems that can better serve our needs. He has developed a space-time geographic information system (GIS) that investigates the interaction between human mobility in the physical space, via transportation, and in virtual space, which is enabled by information and communications technology (ICT), in a space-time context. Dr. Shaw has also developed a new GIS framework to better integrate the concepts that support research in changing human dynamics and the implications on the design of future transportation systems and services.

Read the articles here: 
Human Dynamics Research in Smart and Connected Communities, Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG. 
Understanding the New Human Dynamics In Smart Spaces and Places: Toward a Splatial Framework, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 110(2): 339-348.


CTR Facts & Stats

34 Active Research Projects

Sponsored by 10 Different Local, State, and Federal Agencies

$10 Million

Annual CTR Expenditures

165 CTR People

62 Staff
35 Fellows
33 Affiliated Faculty
35 Visiting Scholars

211 Workshop & Training Courses

Delivered to 4,519 Participants Across Tennessee, the US, and the World


CTR-Associated Journals Show Improved Impact Factors, Rankings

Asad Khattak
EIC, Journal of Intelligent Transportation Systems
Steven Richards
Co-EIC, Journal of Transportation Safety & Security
Xuedong Yan
Co-EIC, Journal of Transportation Safety & Security

Dr. Asad Khattak, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Intelligent Transportation Systems (JITS), reports that the JITS impact factor for 2020 is 4.277, showing a positive overall trend. A high impact factor increases a journal’s visibility and awareness, thus driving up usage and increasing a journal’s overall impact. JITS is now ranked 13/38 among Web of Science-SCIE Transportation Science and Technology journals and, according to the Journal Citation Indicator, JITS is listed as 14/58 in Transportation Science and Technology. 

Journal of Transportation Safety & Security (JTSS), an official journal of CTR and Beijing Jiaotong University, is abstracted/indexed in: EBSCOhost Online Research Databases; Elsevier Scopus; TRID: Transportation Research Information Services & International Transportation Research Documentation Database; and Social Sciences Citation Index. JTSS’s current impact factor is 3.000 with a citation score of 2.9.

JTSS most read articles

  • Interactions between cyclists and automated vehicles: Results of a photo experiment
  • Exploring the Relationship Between Average Speed, Speed Variation, and Accident Rates Using Spatial Statistical Models and GIS
  • Effectiveness of finite-element modelling of damage and injuries for explosions inside trains
  • An exploratory study on the effects of human, technical and operating factors on aviation safety

JTSS most read special issues

  • Driving Simulation Experiments and Behavior Analyses
  • Highway Design and Road Safety


How CTR Makes a Difference

Mareike Ortmann has worked with the TDOT Long Range Planning Division since 2009. Since 2015, she has assisted TDOT to develop Rural Regional Transportation Plans for the state’s 12 Rural Planning Organizations (RPO). These extensive plans include identifying existing infrastructure, analyzing socio-economic and traffic data, and pinpointing potential, current, and future transportation needs. Mareike is also creating an “RPO Manual” for the State of Tennessee outlining the role and responsibilities of Tennessee’s RPOs. The manual will be used primarily by TDOT and the RPOs as a resource and guide. 

CTR’s Dr. David Clarke has been training railroad workers, managers, and consultants across the US for decades. Since 2012 he has delivered over 150 courses to nearly 2,500 attendees with over 50,000 contact hours. The most-demanded class is Railroad Track Inspection and Safety Standards, which focuses on Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) safety standards that all railroad employees must have to keep up with FRA standards and safety guidelines. CTR’s Rail training program offers six regular courses and can create custom classes for companies with specific needs. Student have high praise for these courses: “The value of this course can’t be overstated; it is accessible to students with limited to no experience and a great refresher to those with great experience levels.”

Work Zone safety is a major concern to federal, state, and local agencies. Periodic maintenance of roadways requires workers to be exposed to hazardous conditions, often working next to traffic traveling at high rates of speed. In its continuing efforts to reduce work zone fatalities and provide safe working conditions to its employees, The Tennessee Department of Transportation decided to explore the applicability of an Autonomous Truck Mounted Attenuator (ATMA) to improve work zone safety. This system removes the Truck Mounted Attenuator (TMA) driver from harm’s way. In addition, an ATMA system is designed to maintain the proper buffer distance to the service vehicle with greater accuracy than a human driver, therefore increasing worker safety. In operation, the Leader Vehicle (LV) system transmits its position, speed, and heading to the ATMA follower vehicle in a sequential series of Vehicle-to-Vehicle “e-Crumb” electronic crumb messages. The ATMA then maneuvers from one e-Crumb to the next, precisely following the path of the LV at a user-defined vehicle-gap. See an ATMA in actionSee Final Report to TDOTSee story at WKRN Nashville TV station.

Compared with other US regions, school-aged children in the Southeast have significantly lower levels of active transportation to school (ATS). Ultimately, a child’s ATS is determined by the parents, which may be based on perceptions of safety, extracurricular demands on the family, personal attitudes toward ATS, and perceived social norms among friends and family. This study by Dr. Eugene Fitzhugh sought to determine if parents in the Southeast made ATS decisions differently, compared to parents in other regions. Results confirmed that parents in the Southeast were significantly less likely to allow their children to take ATS compared to parents from other regions (12.9% vs 33.3%, respectively). Interestingly, among parents in the Southeast, ATS was much more likely if the parent was of black race/ethnicity, was a single parent, or if the parent personally got any physical activity. 

As the E-bike Guy, CEE Professor Chris Cherry has focused on how small, lightweight, and powered vehicles could break through to larger audiences and improve some of our most vexing urban transportation challenges, such as safety, sustainability, and congestion. As the scooter-craze has hit the US, he and his team have worked to make such systems a force for good in urban areas. His recent research in this area is funded through the US Department of Transportation through the Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety and the Behavioral Transportation Safety Cooperative Research Program. Chris directs the Light Electric Vehicle Education and Research Institute.