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ODU's Porter Is Chair of International Traffic and Transport Psychology Conference

Bryan Porter, associate professor of psychology at Old Dominion University, is chairing the 4th International Conference on Traffic and Transport Psychology to be held in Washington, D.C., Aug. 31 to Sept. 4. "The conference became ODU's to organize in early 2005," Porter said. "I'm at the end game and it's pretty exciting-lots of work, but exciting and worth it."

About 300 specialists in traffic and transport psychology from 40 countries will attend the conference. The agenda includes 10 symposia and about 180 presentations on topics such as driver training and licensing, driver impairment, effects of fatigue, characteristics of aging drivers, and road user attitudes and behavior.

Kristie Herbert Martinez, who is Porter's doctoral student in applied experimental psychology, also is on the conference organizing committee. Other committee members are from Eastern Virginia Medical School, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention, and universities in England and Australia.

Porter said Elsevier, the international science and health publishing firm that also has a conference organizing section, is handling many of the registration and management tasks. "That leaves me to do more of the science and people work," he explained.

Less than two months out from the conference, he is scrambling to process late submissions from authors, assisting with sponsor development, trying to meet last-minute requests from speakers, including one who will present live via television from Scotland, and assisting with last minute social details. "I had already made four trips to D.C. to scout hotels, dinner venues, etc., well in advance of my last trip with conference committee members to choose accepted papers for the program."

Two other tasks for Porter involve possible publishing opportunities. He led the selection of top student submissions to develop manuscripts suitable for a special student issue of a traffic psychology journal. In addition, he is working with manuscripts from other delegates for an electronic compilation, from which he hopes to glean a book that he will edit.

Martinez, who received her master's degree in psychology from ODU in 2000, has co-authored numerous articles, reports and grants with Porter. They wrote the peer-reviewed journal articles: "The Likelihood of Becoming a Pedestrian Fatality and Drivers' Knowledge of Pedestrian Rights and Responsibilities in the Commonwealth of Virginia," published in 2004; and "Characterizing Red Light Runners Following Implementation of a Photo Enforcement Program," published in 2006.

Porter is an expert on the psychological underpinnings of various dangerous and bad driving habits, and in recent years he has focused on red-light running research. His research and appeals for automatic-camera enforcement at dangerous intersections have been the subject of media reports worldwide.

This article was posted on: July 9, 2008

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