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Research Areas

TESP’s innovation-based research is concentrated in the following core areas:

Transportation Operations/Intelligent Transportation Systems

Examines how to efficiently manage traffic flow on surface transportation systems through simulation, modeling, and visualization methods.

Sustainable Transportation/Energy and Environment

Transportation faculty collaborate with colleagues from environmental engineering and ORNL. Potential research areas include the influence of transportation technologies on emissions and energy consumption and mitigation strategies to reduce environmental and energy impacts.

Achieving a sustainable transportation system is likely to require a large-scale transition from a petroleum-based system to one based on low-carbon and renewable energy sources. Such a transition has important implications for vehicle technologies and manufacturing, the energy supply chain and refueling infrastructure, and public policy.

Transportation Safety

The award won by the Southeastern Transportation Center in 2013 provides an opportunity to conduct transportation safety research and support graduate students and service activities. TESP faculty work with staff from the Center for Transportation Research (CTR) on enhancing safety. Areas of interest include safety issues associated with drivers, vehicles, and roadways; technologies that improve safety; alternative modes of safety such as rail, public transit, pedestrian, and bicycles; creating a repository for safety data and connecting it with other databases focused on health, travel behavior, and time use (referred to as “big data” for safety improvements); procedures for development of a Highway Safety Manual; simulating safe designs; and exploring the role of socio-demographics in safety.

Transportation Planning

Planning for transportation systems involves both qualitative and quantitative approaches to research issues within better anticipation of travel patterns and how they might be affected by technological change.


TESP faculty supports CTR in conducting research on freight movements, especially in the area of freight carried by rail. Given that CTR is involved in NURail a national University Transportation Center, TESP faculty symbiotically participate in the research and educational activities, including safety on rail track crossings; factors affecting truck safety and truck-car collisions; and policy, incentives, and practices to improve trucking safety and performance.

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