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Old Dominion University psychologist Bryan Porter and his research team will help the state of Virginia develop and evaluate traffic safety programs, including new initiatives against drunken driving, under a grant from the commonwealth's Department of Motor Vehicles.

Porter, an associate professor, is an expert on the psychological underpinnings of dangerous driving habits. He is known internationally for his work assessing and promoting automatic photo-enforcement to reduce red-light running. His research group also recently helped the state to evaluate a "Click It or Ticket" program to encourage seatbelt use.

The new one-year grant, which is for $130,310, calls for the group to continue working with the seatbelt program, but also has other focuses, such as drunken driving. The project period extends through September 2008.

Porter said his team will do preliminary work on a DUI program, expanding upon work it already has started to identify high-risk areas for drunken driving-related crashes. "We will make recommendations to the state regarding where it should target the problem of DUI, and then will help the state choose the best programs to deploy," he explained.

A possible third component of the work under the grant would be a program aimed at reducing speeding.

"Our evaluation activities will provide data for DMV leaders to assess the effectiveness of programs so that those programs can be disseminated more widely, refined or perhaps even discarded to allow alternative approaches," Porter said.

The ODU psychologist has been a vocal supporter of photo-red enforcement. His research in Hampton Roads between 2004 and 2006 showed that photo-enforcement cameras could cut red light running by as much as 69 percent. His team includes 13 undergraduate and non-student assistants, as well as five graduate students. Two doctoral students, Kristie Martinez and Krystall Dunaway, have instrumental roles on the new grant.

This article was posted on: October 16, 2007

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