Last year, an estimated 36,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Traffic safety is a multi-disciplinary field, with government agencies, non-profits, businesses, and universities employing thousands of professionals to use their expertise to improve safety on our nation’s roadways. 

To learn about the latest highway safety research, best practices, and cutting-edge initiatives, highway safety professionals from across the country will gather at the annual Lifesavers National Conference on Highway Safety Priorities, March 12-15. The conference allows participants to explore innovative technology and strategies to combat risky driving behaviors and save lives.

As part of the conference, two Virginia Tech students have been selected as 2022 Lifesavers Traffic Safety Scholars. Ali Hassani and Eileen Herbers are two of 43 U.S. and international students awarded scholarships and will attend the conference in Chicago. Both current Virginia Tech Ph.D. candidates, Hassani is pursuing a doctoral degree in Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, and Huber is studying Engineering Science and Mechanics.  

The conference showcases the latest research, evidence-based strategies, proven countermeasures, and promising new approaches for addressing the nation’s most pressing traffic safety problems. Hassani, who is advised by assistant professor Mathieu Joerger, has focused his research on evaluation and quantification of integrity risk of autonomous vehicles' navigation systems. Hassani is developing a tight integrated LiDAR/IMU platform to improve the integrity risk reduction of landmark-based localization methods.

In it’s seventh year, the program’s goals are to showcase the diversity of opportunities in traffic safety and encourage students, regardless of discipline, to pursue a career in a dynamic field that draws from a variety of disciplines from engineering, education and enforcement to communications, business, marketing, medicine, public health, political science, and counseling.

Hassani, Herbers and their fellow scholars will kick-off their Lifesavers experience on March 12, 2022, as they learn about career opportunities from a panel of young traffic safety professionals working in the public and private sectors. The Scholars will continue this career discussion when they meet with state and national traffic safety leaders during the reception. 

Throughout the week, the students will also have the opportunity to participate in three plenary sessions and 70 workshops featuring leading experts in the fields of distracted and impaired driving; child passenger, pedestrian, bicycle, motorcycle, teen, and aging driver safety; occupant protection; vehicle technology; law enforcement and criminal justice; public health, commercial motor vehicles; and roadway design.