The national Center for Excellence in Rural Safety (CERS) was established by the 2005 federal transportation act. it is a joint program between the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Center for Transportation Studies sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration to facilitate research, training, and outreach activities related to rural transportation safety.
The Center for Excellence in Rural Safety
CERS provides citizen-centered research, training, and outreach to enhance rural safety and to meet the online and seminar training needs of rural transportation practitioners and policymakers. The center conducts several focused research activities to explore policy, behavior, and technology approaches to increased safety on rural roadways, such as projects addressing safety-conscious planning, ITS and rural emergency response, integrated policy approaches, human factors, societal trends, and stakeholder needs analysis.
Research, Teaching, and Outreach in Five Thematic Areas
- Travel Safety and Choices. The level of fatalities in rural areas is much higher than in urban areas, so safer and more accessible travel options are needed. In addition, travel needs range from basic mobility for the elderly and other transportation disadvantaged populations to the needs of knowledge workers to get efficiently to and from urban centers.
- Technology. Technology can play a role in improving emergency response in rural areas as well as improving access to goods and services (including transportation services) by rural citizens, including the young, elderly, and transit-dependent.
- Economic Development. Improved transportation access could play an important role in supporting the growth of key industry clusters in rural areas. This training and outreach and dimension involves working with experts to develop methods for identifying those industry clusters and better understanding their transportation needs.
- Citizen Participation. Citizen participation in transportation planning provides a number of benefits, including increasing public support for projects and policies, increasing the efficiency of decisions by reducing time to construction, enhancing the agency's credibility, reducing the risks of litigation, and providing decisions that reflect community values and local knowledge. Involving rural citizens in the transportation decision process presents special challenges that must be addressed.
- Community Development. Transportation impacts community development and character. Rural economic growth is key to the vitality of rural areas. Transportation access to these communities requires new infrastructure and many local areas must make improvements in public infrastructure and services necessary to compete successfully.
The center is led by Lee Munnich of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The Center for Transportation Studies, with staff leadership from Gina Baas, collaborates with the Institute to provide the center's outreach and training services. Other partners include the School of Information Systems and Technology, (Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California) and the New England Transportation Institute (White River Junction, Vermont).