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Examining the Relationship between Transportation Disadvantage and Social Exclusion among Older Adults through Innovative Technology

Published 25 Oct 2021

Mobility in the US is predominantly based on car ownership. In circumstances of economic insecurity, the disconnect between our land use and mobility options perpetuates income inequality, particularly along intersecting lines of race, gender, age, and ability. Moreover, our reliance on cars is increasingly unsustainable, so how do we increase mobility without furthering burdening our environment?

Dr. Cronley’s research focuses on ways to promote green and equitable access to opportunities through interdisciplinary efforts to re-imagine and re-design our transportation systems. She has studied the transportation experiences of underserved populations such as older adults and immigrant women fleeing intimate partner violence. Her work with an interdisciplinary team has created an electronic travel diary to capture latent travel demand among populations with low rates of car ownership. She is working on two NSF-funded projects: The first adopts a smart and connected communities’ approach to co-locate transportation resources with housing and employment using enhanced data sharing. The second project looks at current and emerging research challenges to understanding integrated electricity, transportation, and telecommunications infrastructure from socio-technical and socio-ecological perspectives.


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

W. G. “Buck” Campbell is the Statewide Training Coordinator for the Tennessee Highway Safety Office’s Training Program. With 30+ years in law enforcement, Buck coordinates this program and teaches several courses to law enforcement personnel across the state. This program provides standardized, statewide training with quality content and methods specific to the laws of Tennessee. It also allows highway safety professionals to stay up to date on best practices, new methods, emerging issues, legislation, and law enforcement. The training program is available at no cost to individuals who are interested and meet current course prerequisite requirements.

The Tennessee Transportation Assistance Program (TTAP) recently worked with several communities in distressed and at-risk counties across Tennessee to submit new or revised applications to TDOT’s Multimodal Access Grant (MMAG) program. This grant program provides safe and accessible transportation options for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users through infrastructure projects that address existing gaps along state routes. TTAP Director Matt Cate and Technical Assistance Coordinator Airton Kohls work with local officials to identify and address project challenges, develop design concepts that meet all applicable state and federal design standards, and prepare realistic project budgets ahead of the MMAG application deadline. To learn more about TTAP’s technical assistance program, visit the TTAP website.

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.

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. 


Upcoming Events

Railroad Track Inspection & Safety Standards, Nov 1-5 in Chattanooga

Online workshop: Traffic Impact Analysis, Nov 16-18

TNMUG meeting, Nov 17, Mt. Juliet

Traffic Signal Academy, Oct 20, 27, Nov 17, 23, Dec 1, 15 in Nashville. See course description here.

Transportation Research Board 101st Annual Meeting, Jan 9–13, 2022, Wash DC 

Save the date – March 13-15, 2022 – LIFESAVERS National Conference on Highway Safety Priorities – Chicago.