WASHINGTON - The Midwest Transportation Consortium, located at Iowa State University, has won a $925,700 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to fund research on rural traffic safety.

Research efforts will focus on infrastructure improvements and use of data management systems to reduce the number and severity of crashes. The grant also provides support for outreach activities aimed at encouraging youth to explore careers in transportation.

Iowa State University, through its Institute for Transportation (formerly the Center for Transportation Research and Education), the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa created the consortium.

Though most traffic crashes take place in urban areas, the rates of fatal crashes and traffic fatalities (per capita and per vehicle mile) are higher in rural areas, according to a 2007 study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Minnesota. That study cited several factors in explaining the disparity. For example, rural roads are more likely to have high speed limits, narrow shoulders with ditches, and the absence of median barriers. As a result, head-on and rollover crashes are more likely. A dearth of emergency medical services also plays a major role, along with psychological and social factors that influence the rural safety culture, researchers noted.