Challenge Taps Student Minds to Make Roads Safer

A new challenge from the American Traffic Safety Services Association is encouraging students to think creatively about improving roadway safety.

We may soon have safer roadways—and we can thank the American Traffic Safety Services Association for that.

That’s because ATSSA is enlisting students to help ensure safety on roads with its “Traffic Control Device Challenge.”

Created in partnership with the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the challenge invites teams or individual graduate, college, and high school students to submit original product designs or modifications to existing ones that would make streets safer.

There is a lot of technology out there on our roadways today, and we felt there are students in college, junior college, and even in high school who may have innovative ideas.

“The desire to make roadways safer for motorists is a noble profession,” ATSSA Director of Communications James Baron said. “There are a lot of smart kids out there with a lot of smart ideas, and our roadway safety industry [is] interested in seeing these ideas and perhaps incorporating some of these things into our transportation system today.”

A TRB panel will select the winning products based on how easily the device can be understood by people on the road, be applied nationally, and be implemented. Up to 12 finalists will be able to display their ideas at the TRB 2017 annual meeting, while the top three will be able to present theirs at ATSSA’s 2017 annual meeting. ATSSA will also designate booths in its expo hall for the students.

“There is a lot of technology out there on our roadways today, and we felt there are students in college, junior college, and even in high school who may have innovative ideas,” Baron said. “They’re still years away from attending our expo and showing their projects, so we’re giving them an opportunity to showcase their products in front of their peers at the Transportation Research Board, get selected for a prize, and then display their items at our annual convention.”

But this is just as much a benefit for the students. “This is going to give these students an opportunity to not only show off their products but to also network with people who are already in the industry,” Baron said.

Students will be able to meet with transportation officials, manufacturers, and other designers and innovators through the annual meetings. “In addition to making roadways safer, it could open doors for them to successful careers in the industry,” he continued.

Their ideas could even be considered for implementation alongside other safety devices—like guard rails, traffic signs, and pavement markings—to better the infrastructure needed to support new advancements such as driverless cars.

“We’re really looking forward to working with ATSSA to generate new ideas to make our roadways safe and efficient for a mix of today’s vehicles and the automated vehicle of the near future,” Dr. Paul Carlson, chairman TRB’s Standing Committee on Traffic Control Devices, said in a statement [PDF].


Alex Beall

By Alex Beall

Alex Beall is an associate editor for Associations Now with a masters in journalism and a penchant for Instagram. MORE

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