17 September 2018
A Fulbright Senior Scholar is moving to USC to lead a new state-wide road safety research team from the Sunshine Coast.
Professor Jeremy Davey will lead the Sunshine Coast Road Safety Research Collaboration, a joint initiative between the University and the Motor Accident Insurance Commission.
The team will work closely with the Queensland Department of Transport and the Queensland Police Service.
“The Sunshine Coast is one of the fastest-growing areas in Australia and the university has a strong research concentration, including in the field of road safety research,” Professor Davey said.
He said like many regional areas in Queensland and Australia, the Sunshine Coast has rapidly growing concerns in road safety which include, drink driving, drug driving and speeding which are general higher in regional areas.
“In regional Queensland, the rates of crashes is much higher and survivability is much lower, which is due to various factors including distances to the nearest medical facility, Professor Davey said.
“The Sunshine Coast has the added demographics of high youth unemployment, a growing population and holidaymakers who may be more likely to engage in risky driving behaviours.
He said drug driving was also a concern in Queensland, with the focus on cannabis in northern Queensland and on methamphetamine in South East Queensland.
“Our research focuses on a behavioural approach – the sort of change that stops everyday sensible people from doing highly dangerous things, because it’s not just the usual high-risk groups,” Professor Davey said.
“The use of mobile phones while driving, for example, is just skyrocketing.”
Professor Davey is the first USC academic to have received the Fulbright scholarship, which is the US Government’s most prestigious international foreign exchange scholarship to promote understanding and the exchange of ideas between the United States and other countries.
He will use the trip to investigate drug and impaired driving situations and policing measures in the United States, particularly in states where marijuana has been decriminalised.
He will also share insights from Queensland’s road safety system, which has an international reputation as a leading jurisdiction in the battle against drug driving.
“We started by building a culture of deterrence and drug testing on the side of the roads, and this second phase we are entering now is about getting smarter about how we do it,” he said.
Professor Davey will be in the US for four months from October 2018 to February 2019, during which time he expects to build strong ties between Kansas State University and USC.
“There’s so much potential to build connections that will benefit USC staff, students and the wider community because road safety is a field that touches on so many disciplines – psychology, sociology, public health, medicine, engineering and law enforcement,” he said.
Professor Davey sits on the National Drug Driving Advisory Committee and earlier this year he joined the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Transportation Research Board’s Standing Committee on Alcohol, Other Drugs, and Transportation.
- Janelle Kirkland