The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recognized Robert Wunderlich, director of the Center for Transportation Safety at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute with a 2019 Public Service award.
Wunderlich was among 11 recipients to receive the distinction, which honors individuals and organizations for achievements in the field of traffic safety.
Maggi Gunnels, NHTSA's Region 6 administrator, nominated Wunderlich for the award. Gunnels said Wunderlich's commitment to safety was evident in his longtime support of traffic safety stakeholder work groups and teams such as the Texas Statewide Pedestrian Coalition, according to the institute.
Wunderlich has championed, promoted, and implemented the use of data-driven approaches to traffic safety using crash, roadway, and driver characteristics to develop countermeasures, projects, and programs.
Wunderlich was initially employed with the institute from 1982 to 1984, and then went on to work for three municipalities in Texas as well as a consulting firm. He rejoined the organization in 2012.
As the leader of the Center for Transportation Safety, Wunderlich oversees the group's research in the areas of safety and policy analysis. With innovative educational and outreach programs, he's championed positive behavioral change in drivers, cyclists. and pedestrians, according to the institute.
Most recently, he led the development of the current version of the Texas Strategic Highway Safety Plan, a roadmap that leverages advocacy groups, strategies and public-sector agencies to advance traffic safety while striving to minimize injuries and fatalities across all transportation modes in Texas.
Another noteworthy accomplishment involved Wunderlich taking the results of a project which investigated the causes of the decline in traffic fatalities in the U.S. from 2006 to 2010 and translating them into meaningful understanding of the roles of exposure (miles driven) and risk (probability of a crash, injury, or fatality).
"Commercial fleet drivers have large exposure levels, and reducing risk is critical to their safety," said Wunderlich.
Wunderlich speaks across the country on the findings, offering a perspective to safety professionals as well as providing approaches to reduce risk through modifying behavior, improving roadways and enforcing laws.