Transportation plays critical roles in the economics, social, and cultural aspects of societies around the world. The quality of our lives is significantly improved as a result of goods and humans being transported. From a historical perspective, the largest project that was undertaken by civil engineers was in the 1960s and 1970s when the US Highway Interstate System built.Since transportation is critical to the lives of Americans, transportation engineers should focus on building systems that reduce the travel time and provide a significant level of safety. However, when they strive to meet the two goals, they encounter both technical and behavioral roadblocks. Technical challenges include those that affect the infrastructure (highway maintenance and methods to repair pavements that age), vehicle technologies (performance concerning attaining acceleration, and braking), and traffic control (signal issues about timing approaches and safety issues). Behavioral challenges include dominance by private vehicles, demographic trends (suburban growth, aging population, and the establishment of suburb-to-suburb centers), and safety trends (high frequency of crashes that could be severe).
In 2013, NHTSA reported that 21,132 persons lost their lives due to crashes. Notably, forty-nine percent of these were unrestrained, and fifteen percent were children and teenagers (all under 20). In the same year, 743 cyclists lost their lives on roads and about 48,000 cyclists incurred injuries due to vehicle crashes. Besides, it is documented that 4,735 pedestrians died while approximately 66,000 incurred various levels of injuries as a result of accidents. It is hoped that transport engineers will help to reduce the worrying statistics.
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