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Porter's Address to Conference in Brazil Urges Researchers to Do Traffic Safety Interventions

Bryan Porter

Bryan Porter, an Old Dominion University traffic safety researcher, gave an invited address at the recent InterAmerican Congress on Traffic and Transport meeting in Brazil in which he challenged his colleagues worldwide to step away from their laboratories long enough to do more community intervention work.

He gave one of three invited addresses at the conference, which was held June 11-13 in Curitiba. His topic was "Taking Traffic Psychology to the Streets: Applying Our Knowledge to Create Community Behavior Change."

Porter, an ODU associate professor of psychology, is known for his research into the psychological underpinnings of dangerous driving habits. His work has assessed automatic photo-enforcement to reduce red-light running, and he also has been commissioned by the state of Virginia to work on a "Click It or Ticket" program to encourage seatbelt use, as well as on anti-drunk driving programs.

"I argued in the talk that psychologists must be willing to step into community settings and apply techniques to change behaviors that impact the public health of roadway use," Porter explained. "I provided examples of work that changed risky behaviors."

Last year, he received funding from the state of Virginia to study why seat belt use tends to lag behind the average in rural areas. He told his audience in Brazil that the Precaution-Adoption Process Model that psychologists have used for two decades can help researchers understand how to affect risk perception so that people realize they are vulnerable to a risk, and that a protective behavior, such as seat belt use, can be adopted.

With media interviews, testimony before legislative panels and talks to civic organizations, Porter has been a tireless advocate of automatic photo-enforcement to reduce red-light running. "The reward of community intervention efforts," he said, "will be satisfaction with making a positive impact on the lives of those around us."

This article was posted on: July 6, 2010

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