Civil Engineering graduate student Richard Atta Boateng recently took first place in a district student paper competition sponsored by the Institute of Transportation Engineers. Boateng, who is receiving his master’s degree this spring, took first place in the Institute’s Michigan competition before his paper was forwarded to the organization’s Great Lakes district, where it was awarded first place among submissions by students in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.
Boateng’s paper was titled “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Pedestrian Countdown Signals on the Safety of Older Drivers in Michigan.” Boateng looked at statistical data from around the state to evaluate whether “countdown” displays on traffic signals intended to help pedestrians had an effect on drivers ages 65 and up.
“The research showed countdown signals are not just beneficial to pedestrians, but to drivers as well,” Boateng said. His results showed a 15 percent drop in total crashes and a 52 percent drop in fatal and injury crashes involving drivers 65 years and older.
Dr. Jun-Seok Oh, civil engineering professor and director of Western Michigan University's Transportation Research Center for Livable Communities, said this is the first time a WMU engineering student received first place in the ITE’s three-state district competition. “What makes this remarkable is that Richard was competing against Ph.D. students as well,” Dr. Oh said.
Boateng received a $500 award from ITE’s Michigan section and then a $1,000 award and a certificate of achievement from the Great Lakes district. His paper now will be entered into the International ITE student paper competition.