Getting up to speed on the new hands-free phone law
Lillie Suburban Newspapers, July 21, 2019
The hands-free phone bill that was passed in the Legislature this spring goes into effect Aug. 1. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the new law allows a driver to use their cell phone to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts, and get directions, but only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone. Nichole Morris, director of the HumanFIRST Lab at the University of Minnesota, spoke about what it means for a vehicle to be hands-free, what defines distracted driving and how drivers can use their phone hands-free.
Talking roadway safety and the new hands-free law with U of M
University of Minnesota News, July 18, 2019
On August 1, the hands-free bill passed this spring will become law in the state of Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the new law allows a driver to use their cell phone to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts, and get directions, but only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone. Nichole Morris, director of the HumanFIRST Lab at the University of Minnesota, speaks about what it means for a vehicle to be hands-free, what defines distracted driving and how drivers can drive hands-free.
How much safer does the new hands-free law make our roads?
Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, July 12, 2019
Nichole Morris is a student of the streets—or, more precisely, an adjunct professor. On the day we call, the director of the U of M’s HumanFIRST Laboratory is out of the office, conducting pedestrian field research. On this day, her team is studying how drivers react to people in crosswalks and intersections by walking them and trying not to get creamed, but paying especially close attention to when they almost do. One of the biggest threats to their safety? Distraction, one would think.
Pedestrians would benefit from lower speed limits on MN city streets
Fox-9 TV News, May 22, 2019
In Minnesota, 102 people were killed in 2016 and 2017, the most deadly two-year period in almost 20 years. The number of injuries continues to rise year to year. At the HumanFIRST laboratory at the University of Minnesota, Nichole Morris studies driver behavior with a state of the art driving simulator. She recruited four volunteers to test to see how they would react behind the wheel when facing sudden obstacles like a bicyclist darting into traffic. Every one of the test drivers hit at least one of the obstacles.
KMOJ Radio Interview: Pedestrian safety with Nichole Morris
KMOJ-FM Radio, May 7, 2019
Walter Q. Bear Banks, Jr., interviews Nichole Morris, director of the University of Minnesota HumanFIRST Lab and CTS Scholar, about pedestrian safety when dealing with motor vehicle traffic.
The road ahead: Driverless vehicles and the future of smart mobility
Fox-9 TV News, January 31, 2019
Researchers at the University of Minnesota want to know how people are going to interact with driverless automobiles. They have one of the most advanced simulators in the country to test how automation influences a driver’s behavior. The University recently got a couple of federal grants to study how the coming of autonomous vehicles is going to transform commutes and communities. Engineers at another U of M lab, are testing a sensor that’s being used to help guide automated car prototypes. Grad students that are on a career path to be the city planners of tomorrow are trying to figure out how communities are going to have to redesign themselves to tackle the transition to self-driving vehicles. Interviewed for the story: Nicole Morris, Director, HumanFirst Lab; Tom Fisher, Director, Minnesota Design Center; Ginny Crowson, Director of Research Administration, Center for Transportation Studies; and Max Donath, Director, Roadway Safety Institute.
Streetsies 2018: The Best and Worst Transportation News
StreetsBlogUSA, December 24, 2018
Today we kick off our annual “Streetsies” competition, that time of year when where we look back at the year and remember the stories that really had an impact on urban transportation progress. Among those cited was St. Paul for using signs (right) to help encourage people to yield to pedestrians during an experiment led by University of Minnesota researcher Nicole Morris. The signs are intended to evoke social pressure for drivers to obey yielding laws. The concept comes from the field of “human factors psychology,” which Morris is trying to use to promote safe driving behavior.
UMN leads project to bring awareness to pedestrian fatalities
Minnesota Daily, October 28, 2018
A pedestrian safety study at the University of Minnesota is trying to improve how often drivers stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. With 28 pedestrians killed in Minnesota so far in 2018, the HumanFIRST Laboratory within the Department of Mechanical Engineering aims to bring awareness to pedestrian injuries and fatalities through education, engineering and enforcement. Their project, which was overseen by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, will finish data collection this month on the percentage of cars that stopped when pedestrians used crosswalks. Nichole Morris, the project’s principal investigator and director of HumanFIRST Lab, is quoted.
To Get Drivers to Yield, St. Paul Uses Psych Trick
StreetsBlog USA, October 18, 2018
A ground-breaking experiment in St. Paul, Minnesota, shows a shocking pattern of dangerous and aggressive behavior towards pedestrians. But also how solvable the problem is given the right attention and policies. For most of 2018, researcher Nichole Morris, director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, has been measuring driver yielding at crosswalks around St. Paul.
U of M, St. Paul Team Up to Improve Pedestrian Safety at Crosswalks
KSTP-5 TV News, October 11, 2018
The University of Minnesota and the City of St. Paul are teaming up to try to change drivers' behaviors. The St. Paul Police Department has been working on the study at eight treated intersections since May.... Dr. Nichole Morris with the University of Minnesota said initially some of the intersections had as few as 18 percent of drivers stopping for walkers. Now the average is 75 percent.
20 Facts That Will Make You So Happy You're Not a Teen Right Now
BestLife, September 13, 2018
19. Driving for them is more dangerous than ever. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six teenagers die each day, on average, from auto accidents in the U.S. alone. In fact, University of Minnesota researcher Nichole Morris once warned, "If you're going to have an early, untimely death, the most dangerous two years of your life are between 16 and 17, and the reason for that is driving."
Alternative designs identified for rural intersection warning signs
Crossroads blog, August 20, 2018
A team of University of Minnesota human factors researchers studied the current dynamic warning sign to identify what features or layouts may be problematic and propose safe and efficient alternatives. “We directed special emphasis to the most vulnerable driver populations, such as older drivers and novice teenage drivers,” says Nichole Morris, director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory and the study’s principal investigator. The study was sponsored by MnDOT.
Driver Behavior at Saint Paul Crosswalks with Nichole Morris
streets.mn, August 15, 2018
Today I’m bringing you our 118th episode, a conversation with Dr. Nichole Morris. Dr. Morris is the director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, and is a researcher and scholar who focuses on the intersection of transportation, technology, and behavior. We sat down a few months ago in her office at the University of Minnesota campus to discuss her ongoing research project about pedestrian crossings and driver behavior and street safety in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Measuring driver’s crosswalk behavior in aim to change it
WCCO-4 TV News, August 8, 2018
According to St. Paul police, over the past five years, 835 pedestrians were struck by vehicles. Those incidents resulted in 17 fatalities and injuries to 747 people, including many children. In addition to stepped up enforcement and placing clearly marked crosswalk signage, police are turning to science. Nichole Morris directs the HumanFIRST Lab at the University of Minnesota. The lab’s researchers measure compliance at 16 crosswalks across the city. That data then gets placed on blue signs to show other drivers how many of them are obeying the law and yielding right-of-way to pedestrians. It is the principle of “social norming.”
The numbers say 'stop': A two-pronged approach to traffic safety
Minnesota Public Radio, August 6, 2018
St. Paul has posted new signs at busy intersections without stoplights to remind drivers to stop for pedestrians. According to Minnesota law, cars are required to stop at marked and unmarked crossings when pedestrians are trying to cross. The signs, developed by the HumanFIRST lab at the University of Minnesota, are a reminder of that. They show compliance rates for drivers yielding to pedestrians, comparing last month's record to that of the current month. Nichole Morris, a director at HumanFIRST lab, said that the signs were designed to draw drivers' attention, then inspire them to give pedestrians their right of way.
Signs shame drivers into stopping for pedestrians in St. Paul
StarTribune, August 6, 2018
Drivers in St. Paul need to do a better job stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, and researchers hope blue signs showing the percentage who actually stop will provide the motivation needed to improve. Last fall, University of Minnesota researchers found a woeful 31 percent of drivers citywide yielded to people on foot. Since the signs along eight heavily traveled corridors went up last month, compliance with the law that requires them to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk — marked or unmarked — has risen to about the 45 percent. One week, observations showed that 52 percent of drivers stopped, the highest so far. Nichole Morris, director of the U’s HumanFIRST Laboratory, has sent team members to 16 of St. Paul’s “high-risk” intersections twice a week this summer and had them cross the street 20 times. Team members counted the number of vehicles that stopped, passed or braked hard. The results from the week’s 640 crossings are posted on the signs as a friendly reminder for drivers to look out for the most vulnerable users of the road, she said.
Road signs in St. Paul are shaming drivers into stopping for pedestrians
Bring Me The News, July 19, 2018
You may have noticed signs like the one above appearing near crosswalks on St. Paul streets, equal parts shaming drivers for not stopping for pedestrians, and challenging them to do better. It's the work of the University of Minnesota's HumanFIRST Lab, which is working with the City of Saint Paul on the "Stop For Me" pedestrian safety campaign it started back in April. As HumanFIRST director Nichole Morris explains on Twitter, her team has been compiling the statistics by crossing 16 crosswalks in the city 20 times, twice a week.
Fatal pedestrian crashes at 28-year high; here's one city's plan
KARE-11 TV News, May 8, 2018
Every other day a pedestrian or cyclist is struck by a vehicle in St. Paul, and every other month someone dies. Those statistics, based on averages provided by St. Paul Police, are exactly why an enforcement effort called "Stop for Me" is happening across the city right now. In what has become an annual effort, police officers are targeting different intersections this spring to identify drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians. This year, the effort is bolstered by research at the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies. The HumanFIRST Laboratory has been studying 16 different intersections across the city twice a week, and they are still finding many drivers still simply don't stop for pedestrians. "It was a little disappointing because I live in St Paul and I have a lot of pride in the city, but only about 3 in 10 cars stopped for us," said Nichole Morris, Director of the HumanFIRST Lab.
The Drive: Drivers need a crosswalk culture change
Star Tribune, April 29, 2018
An overwhelming majority of drivers apparently have missed the memo that state law requires them to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk.University of Minnesota researchers crossed St. Paul streets at “high-risk” intersections more than 1,500 times last fall as part of an ongoing study to track driver behavior at crosswalks with pedestrians present. The results were abysmal. Just 31 percent of drivers yielded to those on foot. ... Nichole Morris, director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, sent teams of researchers to eight high-risk intersections without stoplights. One researcher crossed the street while a second made note of drivers’ reactions. Morris found just 3 in 10 motorists actually stopped.
To mitigate dangers for roadway workers, Minnesota develops reporting system for work-zone intrusions
Better Roads, April 24, 2018
Research has shown that half of the deaths of roadway work-zone workers are caused by vehicles intruding into the zone. Addressing the nature of these intrusions is an important step for ensuring a safe work environment for crews. But few states have had an explicit method for systematically collecting this work-zone intrusion data. That’s why Nichole Morris of the University of Minnesota and Todd Haglin of the Minnesota Department of Transportation have led a safety-based project to complete the Work Zone Intrusion Report Interface Design. It’s an efficient, comprehensive and user-friendly reporting system for intrusions in work zones. “This work is critical to improving the safety of work zones by taking a data-driven approach to mitigate the contributing factors of intrusions,” explains Morris, the project’s principal investigator. She’s a research scholar for the University’s Center for Transportation Studies and director of the University’s HumanFIRST Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, as well as an adjunct professor.
The How Dangerous Is Distracted Driving?
WCCO, April 5, 2018
Nichole Morris, director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, says distracted driving isn’t necessarily more dangerous than drunk driving, but it’s different.
Editorial: Pedestrian safety. Yielding matters. So does design
Pioneer Press, February 22, 2018
From police to public works and in neighborhoods all over St. Paul, pedestrian safety is getting attention. It will increase as the year goes on, and that’s good. ... Behind the attention from city government is research funded by MnDOT and conducted by the University of Minnesota. An initial phase — begun last fall and providing baseline data from thousands of crossings at study sites around town — sheds some light on the state of pedestrian safety in St. Paul. It involved researchers — one person observing and another serving as a “stage” pedestrian — measuring yielding rates in the city. “On average, we have a sense that pedestrian yielding in St. Paul is generally pretty low,” explains Nichole Morris, a research scholar at the university’s Center for Transportation Studies.
The Drive: Approaching a work zone? Your phone could tell you
StarTribune, August 27, 2017
Static and digital roadside signs conveying minimal information often are the only notice to warn motorists approaching a construction zone to slow down and be cautious. Drivers get so used to seeing the signs that they don’t pay attention to them and behave as if all work zones are the same, said Chen-Fu Liao, a senior systems engineer at the University of Minnesota’s Traffic Observatory. What if there were a better way to alert drivers and get their attention? This summer Liao and a research team are developing and testing the Work Zone Alert app, which would deliver messages directly to drivers in their vehicles through their smartphones or vehicle’s infotainment system.... The U’s Human First Lab found those who relied on audio from their phone had less mental workload.
A Minnesota driver's dilemma: To honk, or not to honk?
StarTribune, August 24, 2017
While “toot-toots” and “hooooonks” are part of the sound fabric of cities such as New York and Chicago, Minnesota drivers rarely sound off with their horns — even in the face of the most egregious, selfish driving maneuvers. When you’re Minnesota Nice, honking comes with internal conflict. “Honking feels hostile in Minnesota,” said researcher Nichole Morris, who studies driver behavior at the Human First Lab at the University of Minnesota. “In other places, it’s totally acceptable to honk and nobody gets too bent out of shape about it.
X Games bring global spotlight, big show, traffic to U.S. Bank Stadium
StarTribune, July 11, 2017
The X Games are the first in a series of mega-events for U.S. Bank Stadium that include the Super Bowl on Feb. 4, 2018, followed by the Final Four in 2019. This year, both ABC and ESPN will broadcast more than 18 hours from the X Games.... Minneapolis drivers will need to show some agility of their own during the games with a number of street closings near the stadium Thursday through Sunday.... Researcher Nichole Morris, who studies driver behavior at the Human First Lab at the University of Minnesota, said drivers should use wayfinding apps and consider going to a “happy place” by using a safe driving distraction such as an audiobook.
New U of M app warns drivers of cone zones
KARE-11 TV News, May 25, 2017
The University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies has developed an app that will pair directly with technology in construction zones. Researcher Chen-Fu Liao calls it "a Bluetooth beacon." Workers can send messages to drivers as they approach construction zones. The idea is not to look down at the app or the phone but to have it speak to drivers. ... The U of M's Human First Lab tested the app for driver distractions. Researcher Nichole Morris tracked and analyzed the eye movements and responses of 100 different drivers as they navigated several simulated construction zones.
Tips for driving in winter weather
KARE-11 TV News, November 22, 2016
The first snowfall of the season means adjusting our driving behavior to deal with cold, snow, and ice. HumanFIRST Lab principal researcher Nichole Morris provides tips and insight into safely driving in winter weather.
2016’s Best and Worst States for Teen Drivers: Ask the Experts
WalletHub, June 21, 2016
Getting a driver’s license is considered a rite of passage in American culture. But this exciting coming-of-age has instead become a death sentence for thousands of teens each year. Motor-vehicle accidents continue to be the leading cause of death among people between the ages of 16 and 19, which also happens to be the age group with the highest risk of crashes. Nichole Morris, principal researcher in the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the Roadway Safety Institute, and research scholar with the Center for Transportation Studies at University of Minnesota, offers expert insights.
Teens and cars: some advice for staying safe
Orillia Packet and Times, May 23, 2016
Nichole Morris, a researcher at the HumanFirst Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, has startling statistics that should keep parents awake. Morris says the most hazardous years of life for children are between 16 and 17 — not because of suicide, cancer or other accidents; the cause is driving. Morris acknowledges cars and roads have become safer. The trouble is young drivers make fatal mistakes that should never happen.
Klobuchar visit highlights U of M distracted driving research
CTS Conversations, May 05, 2016
CTS and the Roadway Safety Institute today hosted U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar with Minnesota high school students, safety leaders, researchers, and advocates to highlight the dangers of distracted driving. Following remarks, the group toured the University's HumanFIRST Lab, which uses the tools and methods of psychology and human factors engineering to better understand driver performance. High school students from two of the distraction-free driving clubs launched by the Dixit Foundation took turns behind the wheel of the lab's state-of-the art immersive driving simulator, which is used for researching driver distraction and impairment.
Warning to parents: You need to be involved in your teens' driving
NBC Today Show, March 21, 2016
While many experts says that too much involvement in your teenager's life can be counterproductive, statistics show that advice doesn't apply to driving. NBC's Tom Costello reports for TODAY from a driver's ed program in Potomac, Maryland. University of Minnesota researcher Nichole Morris was interviewed for the story.
Teenage Drivers? Be Very Afraid
New York Times, March 19, 2016
Among the people who know what they are talking about, the unanimous message to parents is: You’re not worried nearly enough. Get much more involved. Your child’s life may be in danger. What’s the topic? Teenage driving. “If you’re going to have an early, untimely death,” said Nichole Morris, a principal researcher at the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, “the most dangerous two years of your life are between 16 and 17, and the reason for that is driving.”
Only Human, but on Wheels
ASME, April 2015
The HumanFIRST laboratory at the University of Minnesota is working on ways to prevent automobile accidents caused by cars swerving out of their lanes. This sort of accident, which often occurs on rural roads, accounts for one third of all crashes and as many as 55 percent of all traffic fatalities.
Driving too fast? Your cell phone will text your mom
MPR News, February 6, 2015
Parents of teenage drivers could soon have a new way to make sure their children stay safe behind the wheel. A cell phone app, developed at the University of Minnesota, monitors teens' driving habits in real time, and it alerts their parents when they break the rules of the road.
App developed at U alerts teens, parents to risky driving
Star Tribune, February 6, 2015
The Teen Driver Support System smartphone app was developed after nearly 10 years of work. The U is now exploring whether the app can be commercialized.
U Of M researchers using smartphones to keep teen drivers safe
WCCO 4 News, February 5, 2015
Crashes are the leading cause of deaths for teenagers. That's why researchers at the University of Minnesota are using smart phones to keep teens safe behind the wheel, Kylie Bears reports
Device texts parents when teens drive poorly
FOX 9 News, February 5, 2015
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have been working for 10 years to develop what's called the Teen Driver Support System (TDSS), a smartphone-based application that provides "real-time, in-vehicle feedback to teens about their risky behaviors—and reports those behaviors to parents via text message if teens don't heed the system's warnings."
U of M Creates Smartphone App to Critique Young Drivers
KSTP 5 News, February 5, 2015
Young drivers can thank the University of Minnesota's new smartphone app called Teen Driver Support System for the chat you'll have with your parents when you get home.
Can an app make teens better drivers?
National Conference of State Legislatures, September 5, 2014
Attendees at NCSL's Street Smart: Innovations in Traffic Safety Pre-Conference in Minneapolis heard from Janet Creaser with U of M's Roadway Safety Institute about her study of the Teen Driver Support System. The system is an application that was installed on teen drivers' phones to increase teen driver safety.
Higher ed at the Fair: From Tommie Totes to the U's Gridlock Buster
MinnPost, August 29, 2012
On the other end of the scale, the University of Minnesota occupies eight different fairground locations, from which it hosts a seemingly endless series of events designed to engage an even broader audience. "If you're interested in transportation, we will have our Center for Transportation Studies experts on hand, [with] a game called Distraction Dodger or Gridlock Buster to better familiarize Minnesotans with the effects of playing with your cell phone in your car or trying to text," according to Jason Rohloff, special assistant to the president for government and community relations.
Distracted-driving video game aims to teach teens
WCCO 4 TV News, August 28, 2012
The State Fair is the perfect place to talk about distracted driving. Whether you're in a golf cart or a car, all of your focus has to be on the road, which is often filled with people. Now the University of Minnesota hopes a new video game will hit the point home to young drivers. To see how the game works, watch the video.
HumanFIRST Program partnership develops Safe Teen Car System
Researchers from the HumanFIRST Program at the University of Minnesota's ITS Institute and the private research company Westat have developed a prototype system for new cars. It's called the Safe Teen Car System, and it actually gives teens feedback to help them develop safer driving habits. Sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the project is an extension of a national focus on teen driving safety.
Distraction Dodger premieres at Teen Safe Driving Summit
Distraction Dodger, an online game developed by the ITS Institute, premiered at the 4th Annual Teen Safe Driving Summit on Thursday, February 2, at the Rosemount Community Center. The game, designed to help teens and young adults understand the importance of concentrating on driving, has already received attention with an award at the 2011 International Serious Play Conference.
- Read the University of Minnesota press release
- Watch the KSTP-TV News report
- Watch a related story on FOX 9 News
- Read a related story at Minnesota Public Radio
- Read a related story at the Star Tribune
- Watch This Week @Minnesota segment about the game
- Play Distraction Dodger
Good Question: Are cell phones the most distracting?
WCCO-TV, December 13, 2011
The National Transportation Safety Board wants every state to ban all cell phones used by drivers—no texting, no talking, not even hands-free. But are cell phones more distracting than any of the other distractions inside our cars? According to ITS Institute Director Max Donath, crash statistics indicate that there is a problem. "The issue really is there are so many more people using their smartphones, there's so many people who think they can get away with texting," he said. "More drivers are exposing themselves to this particular distracting behavior, which is why we're seeing so many problems."
Using tech to curb deaths on Minnesota's roadways
Minnesota Public Radio, August 10, 2010
ITS Institute Director Max Donath and HumanFIRST Director Mike Manser discuss a range of technologies that save lives on the road, from digital maps and devices that keep drivers from drifting out of their lane to phones that alert parents if a young driver is violating Minnesota's graduated driver's license rules by being out too late or having too many passengers in the car. Seat belts are a crucial safety technology, as well.
U turns to technology to aid teen drivers and their parents
Star Tribune, May 1, 2010
U of M researchers are hoping intervention technology will make teenagers better drivers. The Teen Driver Support System goes well beyond seat belts and cell phones.
Drivers and their toys: Unsafe at any speed?
Star Tribune, September 30, 2009
Federal officials, transportation experts, and academics are convening in Washington, D.C., for a first-ever summit on how to combat distracted driving.... "This is not a new topic," said Michael Manser, who's attending the Washington summit in his role as director of the HumanFIRST program at the U's Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute.
Newest Source of Teen Ire: Webcams in Their Cars
Washington Post, October 24, 2008
Maryland study involving webcams for teen drivers yields similar results to a prior Minneapolis study.
Motorcycles and alcohol: Research examines a dangerous combination
CTS Research E-News, September 2008
This summer, with gas prices at an all-time high and warm weather beckoning riders to hit the road, motorcycles and scooters are more popular than ever.
Sleepy driver takes a test drive
KMSP-TV Fox 9 News, May 21, 2008
Using the University of Minnesota HumanFIRST virtual driving simulator, researchers can monitor how a sleepy driver isn't able to drive safely.
Study: Rural Minnesota Drivers Take More Risks Than Urban Drivers
Fox 9 News, December 18, 2007
Rural drivers -- especially pickup drivers -- have more relaxed attitudes toward safety on the road, according to a new University of Minnesota study.
U of M testimony before MN Senate Transportation Committee
Minnesota Senate, Finance Transportation Budget and Policy Division Committee Hearing, January 30, 2007
Minnesota Medicine article on reducing fatal crashes features ITS Institute experts, technology
Minnesota Medicine, May 2006
Teen driving research featured on Fox 9 News
KMSP Fox 9 News, February 27, 2006
Inside ITS article highlights Minnesota's Toward Zero Deaths program
Inside ITS, 2005
'U' research on driving hits new gear
Star Tribune, September 10, 2005