Center to Develop Systems, Technologies to Reduce Injury And Death From Car Crashes

Release Date: June 10, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Calspan-University at Buffalo Research Center (CUBRC) will receive $12 million over the next six years under the federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st century, signed today by President Clinton.

The funding will establish a new Center for Transportation Injury Research to develop and evaluate systems and technologies to improve management of the transportation and emergency-response systems to reduce injuries and loss of life resulting from vehicle-related crashes.

"CUBRC's Center for Transportation Injury Research addresses a critical national need -- reducing the level of injuries and fatalities on the nation's highways," said Thomas McMahon, CUBRC executive director.

McMahon said the center will bring together experts in emergency medicine and transportation-safety research to address crash and injury prevention, as well as to look at how to mitigate the personal and economic costs of crashes that do occur.

An important focus of the center will be the development of technology to improve the delivery of emergency-medical services to victims of rural crashes. Nearly 60 percent of all traffic fatalities occur in rural areas, where delays in crash notification and the delivery of emergency and definitive medical care are likely to occur.

CUBRC is a not-for-profit organization, formed by the University at Buffalo and Calspan, an operation of Veridian Corp., to bring together scientists and engineers from academia and private industry to conduct joint research.

"The Center for Transportation Injury Research will maximize the existing cooperative relationship between UB and Calspan by integrating their strengths," said William R. Greiner, UB president and chair of the CUBRC Board of Directors. "As a result, we expect there to be important improvements in highway safety that will decrease the number of fatalities.

"This partnership exemplifies what is possible for our region when we work together," Greiner added. "By leveraging UB's strength in the area of clinical research with those of Calspan, a world leader in aeronautics, defense and transportation research and development, we have brought a total of $48 million in research funding into Western New York during the past 15 years."

Joseph Allen, Ph.D., Veridian board chair and a member of the CUBRC Board of Directors, noted that Veridian's Calspan Operations has been a world leader in transportation safety for more than 50 years.

"The establishment of this new center, the result of Representative Jack Quinn's leadership in the House, is an extension of Veridian's corporate values and culture as we work toward making our nation's highways safer for everyone," he said.

Quinn, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, requested and helped secure the funding for the new program in the transportation bill.

"The CUBRC center will have a significant impact on improving the safety and efficiency of our highways," he said. "The joint research project will help save lives in Western New York and around the country by using the most up-to-date and innovative technology available."

The new funding complements research efforts currently under way by the UB Department of Emergency Medicine and Calspan involving real-world testing of advanced technologies to provide automated notification of crashes and improve links to the 911 system.

"The center will apply systems-engineering methodologies to advance the state of the art for crash-notification and response systems," said Edward Starosielec, vice president of Calspan's Transportation Group.

"We need to consider all possible linkages, data requirements and necessary infrastructure to improve how emergency-response systems work. We want to identify technologies and systems that can work together across the entire spectrum from crash avoidance to crash notification and emergency response, and identify areas where we can develop or test specific technology solutions."

According to Calspan and UB researchers, automated crash-notification and response systems are a critical element of improving the highway and transportation "safety net."

Through the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS), cellular communications networks and advanced vehicle electronics, the researchers hope to exploit and improve on current capabilities, as well as identify and test new systems that will provide emergency-service personnel with new tools for delivering better and faster care to crash victims.

Dietrich Jehle, M.D., associate professor and vice chair of the UB Department of Emergency Medicine and an investigator on the CUBRC project, said the emergency-medicine aspects will include evaluating and testing new tools to correlate crash severity and injury severity.

"This represents a critical knowledge gap for those of us involved in the practice of emergency medicine, and represents an area for potentially significant savings in lives and reductions in injury severity," said Jehle, director of the Emergency Medicine Department at the Erie County Medical Center.

He noted that the UB Department of Emergency Medicine and the emergency department at ECMC, which has some of the best survival rates for trauma centers in New York State, are particularly well-versed in gathering and analyzing this type of information.

Anthony J. Billittier, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine at UB, and Alan Blatt, principal engineer with Calspan, will provide technical leadership on medical and engineering issues relative to the project.

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