Safety and Operations

Program Overview

The mission of the Safety and Operations program is to be at the forefront of the National momentum to address safety and operational challenges in rural America. Our goal is to develop sustainable solutions to improve safety and operations through innovation and research in several areas, including:

Program Staff

Dr. Ahmed Al-Kaisy is an professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Montana State University. He is also the Program Manager for the Safety and Operations Focus Area at the Western Transportation Institute and a registered professional engineer in the state of Montana. Dr. Al-Kaisy has teaching experience in many areas of transportation engineering, including traffic operations and management, traffic flow theory, traffic safety, signal optimization and control, highway design, and intelligent transportation systems. With extensive research experience in the fields of traffic flow, control, operations and safety, Dr. Al-Kaisy has widely published in scholarly journals such as Transportation Research, Transportation Research Records, Journal of Advanced Transportation, and the Journal of Transportation Engineering (to name but a few). He has authored/co-authored around 50 refereed publications of which around 30 are fully refereed journal publications. Dr. Al-Kaisy also has prior experience in both the public and private sector as a contractor, project engineer and highway design engineer and is affiliated with a number of professional organizations.

Dr. Pat McGowen, P.E., is an assistant professor jointly appointed between WTI and the Civil Engineering Department at Montana State University, where he has worked on projects relating to rural ITS, transportation impacts on wildlife, safety and travel, and tourism. Dr. McGowen is the founder and co-chair of the TRB subcommittee on Animal-Vehicle Collisions (ANB20-2). He obtained his bachelor of science and master of science degrees in civil engineering from Montana State University, and his doctorate from the University of California-Irvine in transportation systems engineering.

Dr. Laura Stanley, C.P.E., is an Assistant Professor in the Industrial Engineering Department at Montana State University. She obtained her Ph.D. and M.S. in Industrial Engineering from Montana State University and B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech. She has spent the last seven years working on transportation safety issues at Western Transportation Institute and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. At Western Transportation Institute, she worked on projects that included: the distraction of cell phones, evaluating the safety benefits of an advanced defensive driving training program for teenage drivers, naturalistic observation of a fleet of emergency medical service drivers and an evaluation of onboard driving quality feedback system, evaluating an education-based distracted and drowsy driving intervention for teenage drivers, and human factor principles of interface design for collision avoidance systems during run-off-road and head-on collisions. While at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, she has worked on projects including: naturalistic observation of older drivers, the development and assessment of a driver fatigue monitoring system, driver distraction evaluations of in-vehicle communication and navigation devices, and the evaluation of advance collision avoidance displays for garnering attention towards forward collisions. Dr. Stanley serves on review committees for the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Driving Assessment, Accident Analysis and Prevention Journal, National Rural Intelligent Transportation Systems and is also an active member in Transportation Research Board committees AND10 (Vehicle Users Characteristics) and AND20 (User Information Systems).

Dr. David Veneziano is a research scientist with WTI. Between his professional career and graduate education, he has extensive experience in several types of studies, including safety and operations, remote sensing, intelligent transportation systems and geographic information systems analysis. Dr. Veneziano is a member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, and is a friend of the TRB Committee on Safety Data, Analysis, and Evaluation and the TRB Subcommittee on Teen Driving.

Dr. Nicholas Ward is a senior research scientist at WTI and a professor in the Industrial Engineering Department at Montana State University. He has nearly 15 years of experience in human factors research, focusing on driver behavior research and human factors design with Intelligent Transportation Systems, specifically through the use of immersive driving simulation. He has directed driving simulation programs at three other universities, and is the lead for the human factors consortium at Montana State University.

Dr. Zhirui (Jared) Ye is a research scientist at WTI, Montana State University. He has nine years of experience in transportation engineering and science research. He earned his Ph.D. degree in Transportation Engineering from Texas A&M University. Over the past nine years, Dr. Ye has been involved in many projects related to freeway construction management, traffic flow data analysis, work zone traffic study, freeway sensor data fusion, arterial signal timing optimization, winter highway operations, and planned special events. Dr. Ye also conducted research in traffic safety which focused on crash data analysis, evaluation of safety treatments, and development of statistical methodologies for safety issues. Since working at WTI, Dr. Ye has focused his research on the areas of ITS, traffic operations, traffic safety, and surface transportation weather.

Contact: 406-994-6116