National Academies Press: OpenBook

Transportation Research Board 2021 Annual Report (2022)

Chapter:GOAL 3: Advise and Inform Policy

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Suggested Citation:"GOAL 3: Advise and Inform Policy." National Research Council. 2022. Transportation Research Board 2021 Annual Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26457.
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Page12
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Suggested Citation:"GOAL 3: Advise and Inform Policy." National Research Council. 2022. Transportation Research Board 2021 Annual Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26457.
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Page13

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10 / TRB 2021 AnnuAl RepoRT As part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, TRB study commit- tees provide formal advice to the federal govern- ment through consensus studies and also review of U.S. DOT research programs. Additionally, TRB provides useful information that informs policy discussions at all levels of government through workshops and research reports. Convening to Advise Upon request, National Academies–appointed consensus study committees provide advice to Congress, executive branch federal agencies, the states, and other organizations on an array of complex and often controversial transporta- tion topics of national significance. Committee members are selected to provide appropriate expertise and a balance of perspectives on the issues involved. Through such special expert committees, TRB also conducts periodic or continuing reviews of specific transportation research and technology programs. Policy study committee activities are subject to the require- ments of Section 15 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments of 1997.  TRB conducts advisory studies in accor- dance with procedures of the National Acad- emies. Congress or executive branch agencies request some studies, while others are self- initiated studies funded by TRB. Committees of volunteer experts supported by staff from TRB’s Consensus and Advisory Studies Division conduct these studies. Formal policy advice comes through TRB’s consensus studies. Each study commit- tee produces a report with evidence-based conclusions and recommendations that are subject to the National Academies’ rigorous report review process. As with other research published by TRB this year, the reports reflect transpor- tation’s connections to and impacts on the environment, health and safety, equity, and the economy. One consensus study committee examined the country’s increased reliance on shared modes of transportation, such as ride-hailing or scooter- and bike-sharing. The committee con- cluded that these modes can enhance mobility and sustainability, along with equity. But they will need to be scaled up through public and private partnerships. TRB’s The Role of Tran- sit, Shared Modes, and Public Policy in the New Mobility Landscape recommends that cities, transit agencies, and other mobility providers collaborate in goal-setting, experimentation, testing, and implementation to increase the positive societal benefits of the shared modes. Having been downloaded thousands of times, the report’s potential impact is promising. Significant progress has been made over the last decade in integrating resilience criteria into transportation decision making based on the framework for measuring and evaluating invest- ments in resilience, as documented in Invest- ing in Transportation Resilience: A Framework for Informed Choices. Green Car Congress and Transportation Today explored the report’s findings.⁴–⁵ Although leaded gasoline was phased out from use in motor vehicles 25 years ago because of health concerns, it is still used in small gasoline-powered aircraft—as a group the single largest emitter of lead in the country. TRB’s Options for Reducing Lead Emissions from Piston-Engine Aircraft finds that significantly reducing these emissions requires leadership and strategic guidance of the Federal Aviation Administration along with a broad-based and sustained commitment by other government agencies, pilots, airport managers, aviation fuel and service suppliers, and aircraft manufactur- ers. An NBC News article featured the report, asking, “Why are these planes still using toxic fuel?” And an article in Grist quoted the report, noting the level of aviation gas emissions.⁶ Allowing people who are nonambulatory to GOAL 3 Advise and Inform Policy State, federal, and local trans- portation agencies utilize TRB workshops and research reports in policy discussions and development.

TRB 2021 AnnuAl RepoRT / 11 remain in their personal wheelchairs for airline travel can be beneficial for people who can- not transfer to and from an airline seat. TRB’s Technical Feasibility of a Wheelchair Securement Concept for Airline Travel: A Preliminary Assess- ment concluded that providing space inside an airplane cabin for a wheelchair securement does not present any formidable technical challenges. Although equipping enough airplanes with securement systems to provide meaningful lev- els of airline service would require substantial effort, the types of cabin modifications required to provide the needed space and structural support would likely be of moderate techni- cal complexity for many individual airplanes. The ability of the wheelchairs themselves to be crashworthy and protect the occupant during an emergency landing or survivable crash, how- ever, warrants further evaluation testing. The study committee recommended that a research program be developed for this purpose. Published in 2019, TRB’s Renewing the National Commitment to the Interstate Highway System: A Foundation for the Future continues down the road as a relevant resource, with infrastructure high on the national agenda through the latter half of 2021. Along with TRB staff member Monica Starnes, report authoring committee chair Norman Augustine wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in the July 11 edition of the Wall Street Journal about finding new sources of funding for U.S. interstates, citing the consensus report.⁷ Looking further back, TRB’s Improving Motor Carrier Safety Measurement, published in 2017, has led to a new U.S. DOT methodology, as noted on July 3 in Homeland Security Today. As policy continues to develop, TRB re- search lives a long and useful life. Other consensus reports released in 2021 include the following: • Preparing for LNG by Rail Tank Car: A Re- view of a U.S. DOT Safety Research, Testing, and Analysis Initiative; • Modernizing the U.S. Offshore Oil and Gas Inspection Program for Increased Agility and Safety Vigilance; and • Options for Improving the Safety of DUKW Type Amphibious Vessels.

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The 2021 Annual Report summarizes TRB’s accomplishments in each of its major program areas and how TRB has served the nation and the global transportation professional community throughout the year. TRB provides leadership in transportation improvements and innovation through trusted, timely, impartial, and evidence-based information exchange, research, and advice regarding all modes of transportation.

TRB is a program division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). The National Academies provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation; conduct activities to solve complex problems; and inform policy decisions on matters related to science, engineering, and medicine.

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