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BYU team develops traffic safety model

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PROVO -- For the past six years a team at Brigham Young University has been developing one of the most advanced traffic safety models in the country.

“It was developed specifically for Utah and Utah drivers and we were excited to think that over the long term that this might in a small way contribute to Utah`s goal of zero fatalities,” said Shane Reese, Professor of Statistics BYU.

The system predicts how many crashes are expected on a roadway and compares that to the number of accidents that actually occur there.

“It’s been interesting at times to see where some of those locations are but then after you think about it and go through the reasons of the crashes it makes sense,” said Grant Schultz, Associate Professor Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering BYU.

One of the first traffic hotspots the model found is right next to the BYU campus at the intersection of University Avenue and Bulldog Boulevard. Researchers found a lot of accidents were happening from left-hand turns.
As a result Utah Department of Transportation will install a new signal here in just a few months.

UDOT says the new model is saving lives and tax-payer dollars.

“This really helps us be accountable to the limited dollars we receive. It helps us confidentially tell the public we are using the funds we have in the most effective way we can,” said Scott Jones, Safety Programs Engineer UDOT.

But researchers and UDOT say they can't reach the goal of zero fatalities on their own.

“It’s a matter of Utahns and the fact that we all care about the safety of Utahns as we enter the roadways that we want that safety for our children for ourselves not only upon the modelers but for all of us that we don`t text and drive and that we don`t use distracted driving techniques,” Reese said.