Quarter 1 2020

In This Newsletter:

Director’s Message

From the recently appointed Director, Dr. Nithin Agarwal:

I knew that accepting the role of T2 Center Director would present exciting challenges; however, little did I – or the world – know to prepare for this unprecedented global health security threat of COVID-19. First and foremost, we all are deeply grateful to the thousands of healthcare workers globally who are on the front lines helping their communities.

Second, we are fortunate to have a great team at T2 and the University of Florida Transportation Institute (UFTI) who have stepped up and not only supported one another but also taken care of our academic and industry partners, trainees, and acquaintances. We have received tremendous support from the UFTI, the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, and the UF administration. Many have worked diligently to transition the tens of thousands of students, faculty, and staff to remote work as seamlessly as such an undertaking could be accomplished.

We all know that cities, states, and even countries are imposing much-needed restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19. While these steps are essential to prevent the spread of this disease, they are also causing unprecedented disruption for teachers, students, and continuing professional trainees.

The T2 Center is working hard to find solutions to this unforeseen disruption as efficiently and effectively as possible. Our team has moved quickly over the last two weeks to maintain the continuity of our programs, including:

1.      Remote operation – To protect our team and help with containment, all functions of T2 are operational and functioning remotely. All phone numbers, email, and customer service processes are up and running. We remain as passionate as ever in supporting your learning goals and finding ways to connect you to courses and information that may be helpful to you during this time. All of our digital channels, including our Learner Help Center, are available to you if you need assistance.

2.      Virtual training – All T2 training is now virtual. We have secured approval for enhanced virtual training and online testing from appropriate authorities to provide training and testing online.

3.      Grants – We are continuing to administer and implement grant activities from remote work locations. We have designed the workflow process to meet the needs of the hour.

4.      Enhanced support – Our staff is working diligently with our industry partners and trainees to provide proactive support for untraditional needs including technology and alternative work protocols.

I realize that with everything happening, it is difficult to cope with all the stress and distractions. However, our team at the T2 Center has managed to provide effective service to the transportation community in the past quarter. Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has renewed the contract with the T2 Center for the Transportation Safety Center, as detailed below. The Occupant Protection Resource Center and the Pedestrian and Bicycling Safety Resource Center grants have had a productive quarter distributing traffic safety resources. The auxiliary courses have benefited hundreds of trainees by providing training and certifying professionals. Additionally, we are working on several initiatives to evaluate emerging technologies and technology transfer through the I-STREET testbed with industry partners, City of Gainesville, and FDOT.

We also celebrated T2 and McTrans’ Director, Mr. Bill Sampson’s retirement via Zoom. Even though I am confident the Kentucky Wildcats fan will be around for us, we wish him a happy and fulfilling retirement. He has set the standard as the most hardworking person around – he was always the first on campus and the last to leave every single day (except on UK basketball game day ? ). Bill has set such a very high standard with the success of McTrans and that serves as an inspiration for me and others in the transportation community. Even though we are happy for him in his well-deserved retirement, the T2 staff will miss seeing his friendliness, humor, and even his Kentucky (Harlan to be precise) lingo around T2.  

Lastly, we realize that the scale and human impact of this pandemic is enormous, and we all will need to support and learn from each other. If there is anything that the T2 Center can do to assist, please feel free to reach out to me directly (nithin.agarwal@ufl.edu). I invite you to share your questions, ideas, and comments with the community and hope that T2 can serve you and those you love during these difficult times.

The T2 Center is here together with you. Until next time… Stay safe!

Upcoming Courses and Training

Currently, all UFTI T2 Center training courses are offered online.

April 7 & 8 – Intermediate Maintenance of Traffic – VIRTUAL Training

April 22 – Pilot/Escort Flagging – VIRTUAL Training

April 28 – Advanced Maintenance of Traffic Refresher – VIRTUAL Training

April 29 & 30 – Advanced Maintenance of Traffic – VIRTUAL Training

If you don’t see a class that fits your needs and have a group of interested students, please contact Jasper Masciocchi at j.masciocchi@ufl.edu or (352) 273-1685 to discuss opportunities. 

Center News             

Florida Occupant Protection Resource Center (OPRC) Update

The 2020 National Child Passenger Safety Technician Certification Training Curriculum Is Here! 

The National Child Passenger Safety Board (NCPSB) released a new curriculum in January. Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) Instructors received new Instructor Guides (IGs) for use in certification courses beginning February 1, 2020. The new format is based on feedback from instructors and technicians using the previous curriculum from 2014. 

In addition, the NCPSB launched a new website to host the new curriculum materials and supporting resources. Recorded webinars provide supplemental information about new activities and features of the 2020 curriculum, skills evaluations, and FAQs. Visit www.cpsboard.org to view the full list of webinars.

Scholarships Available for CPS Certification and Recertification Fees

Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Instructors and Technicians must re-certify every two years. Florida’s recertification rate is below the national average. The OPRC offers scholarships to help with Safe Kids certification and recertification fees, as well as proxy and instructor candidate fees. Scholarships must be applied for before a class begins. Visit the OPRC scholarship website to learn more.

Florida’s Pedestrian and Bicycling Safety Resource Center (SRC) Update

Helmet News

The Helmet Store is open!  We currently have helmets available in a range of sizes and are able to provide helmets for big or small events. For information on how to order bicycle helmets, please visit https://www.pedbikesrc.ce.ufl.edu/pedbike/Bike_Helmets.asp. As long as our shipper is picking up, we will be filling orders.

Bike Month

Florida Bike Month, March, was interrupted by the COVID-19 health emergency. May is National Bike Month.

Transportation Safety Center (TSC) Update

The Florida Department of Transportation recently renewed the Transportation Safety Center (TSC) grant with the goal of assisting six more Florida counties in developing local road safety plans. In the previous contract, the TSC completed local road safety plans for Jackson and Columbia counties. The TSC provided each county with well-received reports that will help them prioritize road improvements that can reduce crashes on their rural roads.

The TSC was started in 2014 to provide technical assistance to local agencies throughout Florida, helping them to identify road safety problems and to develop projects eligible for federal funding. Under the previous contract, the TSC developed a road safety audit template and refined the process of conducting and implementing the safety program. Lessons learned from serving two Florida counties will now benefit several more, making Florida’s rural roads safer one county at a time.

The TSC has developed a variety of tools that help perform the work of data collection and analysis more comprehensively and efficiently. The TSC developed a Florida-specific crash tree tool that utilizes Signal4Analytics software which pulls crash data directly from Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles databases for the most up-to-date information. Having all that data enables the team members to find patterns among the crash locations.

The crash tree diagram developed at the TSC was recently presented to a national audience at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in January, in Washington, D.C. The presentation generated considerable interest and the researcher primarily responsible for development of the crash tree and the software that supports it, Dr. Roozbeh Rahmani, has been responding to requests for information about this work since that time.

The TSC primarily focuses on small (<50,000 population) rural counties. Under the new contract, the TSC will work with six counties. Each of the six counties will be the focus of TSC’s efforts in consecutive six-month periods as safety hotspots are identified based on historical crashes and a menu of systemic safety responses is developed to address crash risks. Local road safety plans developed at the TSC engage all stakeholders, bringing to small counties crash reduction methods usually only available to more populated counties.

The TSC will begin its work under the new contract with Levy County. If you are interested in participating and contributing to this effort, please contact the Project PI, Dr. Nithin Agarwal, at nithin.agarwal@ufl.edu.

FDOT Research

Center Resources

Searching for Safety or Technical Training?

T2 can work with you to meet your training needs.  Whether it is heavy equipment, project management, Traffic Engineering Fundamentals, or countless other topics.

We can provide an array of webinars geared to give you with the most relevant information without the need to travel.  Let us know your areas of interest, and we can work with our experts to provide training either in instructor-led or webinar formats.

Many of our courses are approved for Professional Engineer (PE) credits.

Contact Jasper Masciocchi at j.masciocchi@ufl.edu or 352.273.1685 to discuss your training needs.