Investigation of International Highway Safety Issues and Training Needs
Recent efforts have identified highway safety workforce issues in the United States. The coverage of highway safety workforce issues has, however, been limited to the United States and there is a need to investigate these issues and practices from an international perspective. Many transportation professionals from around the world come to the United States to learn from us and to share their experiences with us. Since the road safety issues they face may be fundamentally different from those we have, it is important to understand their training needs and develop appropriate courses to those needs. In particular, the road safety issues facing low and middle income countries are drastically different from those experienced in developed countries. In addition, the road safety problems in those countries are expected to deteriorate due to rapid growth, urbanization, and motorization. A recent World Health Organization report estimated that the number of deaths and serious injuries are expected to increase by as much as 80% between 2000 and 2020 in low and middle income countries.
The investigation of international highway safety workforce issues and practices is expected to identify issues that have not been addressed by the recently developed Core Competencies for Highway Safety Professionals. In addition, there is the potential to identify “best practices” in highway safety workforce training and professional development from the United States and other developed countries that can be used in providing appropriate training for road safety professionals from developing countries and to develop new training materials for unmet training needs of these low and middle income countries.
Highway Safety, International Safety Workforce Issues, Low and Middle Income Countries, Training Needs
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) Joint Subcommittee for Highway Safety Workforce Development formed in 2003 to raise awareness of the lack of education and training opportunities available for highway safety professionals. The subcommittee developed a set of core competencies for highway safety professionals over a four year period (2003 – 2006). The core competencies were developed to establish a baseline of knowledge for all highway safety professionals. A scan of university-based highway safety courses was also completed during the same period to determine the extent of coverage of the core competencies by current curriculum in the United States. The core competencies and results of the university-scan were documented and published. In 2006, the subcommittee was elevated to a TRB task force. The committee is currently developing a research problem statement to study this issue from two perspectives. One perspective is to gather information on safety workforce training provided other developed countries that can used for training domestic highway safety professionals and the other perspective is to develop training materials to meet the demands of safety professionals from developing countries.
The TRB Joint Subcommittee for Highway Safety Workforce Development was established to identify issues related to education and training opportunities for highway safety professionals; this objective was not limited to the United States. There is a need to investigate highway safety workforce issues and practices from an international perspective. Until highway safety workforce education and training issues have been evaluated from an international perspective, the primary objective of the subcommittee will be incomplete. This research should be a priority for the task force and the Transportation Research Board.
FHWA, NHTSA, IIHS (domestic agencies with interest in road safety and possible providers of support and training); transportation agencies in developing countries (consumers of training programs)
The proposed research will help to identify issues related to international highway safety workforce development. Results may be incorporated into the current core competencies for highway safety professionals. More importantly, it will scope the additional training needs of highway safety professionals from low and middle income countries and provide recommendations for possible areas of safety workforce development in these countries.
Many highway safety professionals in developed countries are well-trained in their area of expertise although they may lack a general understanding of the key highway safety concepts overall. However, their counterparts in developing countries do not possess much of this expertise. In addition, the training needed by safety professionals in developing countries may also be different. This research will help identify issues related to the training and education of highway safety professionals in developing countries. The measure of effectiveness will include a measure of the extent of understanding of the key highway safety concepts by safety professionals and their ability to improve road safety in low and middle income countries.