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Eric Jackson, Ph.D. - University of Connecticut. Storrs, CT, US

Eric Jackson, Ph.D.

Executive Director, CTI and Director CTSRC | University of Connecticut




Jackson researches driver behavior and vehicle impacts on transportation safety. Currently the Director of the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center (CTSRC) at UConn, he led the overhaul and modernization of crash data and safety analysis in the state. Current research has focused on providing public access to crash data and transportation safety analysis tools. Through database design and data integration the CTCDR provides researchers, planners and the Department of Transportation with timely, accurate and complete access to motor vehicle crash data and analysis.

His latest projects involve how Connected and automated vehicles will impact safety and society and the barriers to adoption of this new technology.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Autonomous Vehicles

Safety data integration and analysis

Transportation Data Systems

Web-based data collection, distributuon, and analysis

Remote sensing and geographic information systems

Education (3)

University of Connecticut: Ph.D., Civil Engineering 2008

University of Connecticut: Masters, Civil Engineering 2004

University of Kentucky: Bachelors, Civil Engineering 2002


Media Appearances (25)

UConn is studying trucking in CT. The issue big rig drivers face might sound familiar.

Hartford Courant  print


“Truck parking has been a major focus of the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) for the last four or five years,” said Eric Jackson, the executive director of the Connecticut Transportation Institute and the director of Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center. “We are trying to find ways to accommodate truckers and make it as efficient as possible.” Jackson said his organization is in the process of creating a parking inventory across the state.

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UConn demo teaches how to respond to pedestrian crash

WTNH  tv


A demo held on Wednesday at the University of Connecticut taught officers what to do when responding to a scene where a vehicle hits a pedestrian. “It’s truly important,” said Eric Jackson, the executive director of the Connecticut Transportation Institute. The simulation also included what to do if a bicyclist is hit by a car.

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UConn researchers warn of deadly trend on roads, seek solutions for safer driving

WTNH  tv


“There are a lot of things drivers do behind the wheel that tend to cause or lead up to a person being involved in a crash,” Jackson said. “So how can we use vehicle automation or how can we use safety features within vehicles to prevent those crashes from occurring?” Researchers are also looking at crashes involving motorcycles. Motorcycle accident deaths are up 700% this year to date with 7 fatalities, according to Jackson. “We’re seeing a dramatic increase in motorcycle fatalities this year partly because we’ve had a fairly warmer winter,” said Jackson.

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Most CT drivers 'scanned hundreds if not thousands of times' by 'unregulated' license plate readers

Hearst Connecticut Media  print


Most of the license plate readers currently in use in Connecticut are affixed to cars, either police cruisers or vehicles owned by private companies, according to Eric Jackson, executive director of UConn's Connecticut Transportation Institute, which studies traffic and crash data in the state Jackson said “there's no citations issued” by a license plate reader. “It's a tool that law enforcement can use, either as they’re driving through parking lots or as they're driving down the road.”

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Why don’t we use more driving simulators to teach teenage drivers?

Popular Science  online


“We can put people in scenarios that they may never experience and make them aware of the risks and dangers [of driving],” Eric Jackson, Executive Director of the Connecticut Transportation Institute (CTI), a research center at the University of Connecticut, tells PopSci. In addition to compiling car crash data to track trends, Jackson’s team operates a variety of driving simulators to study driver behavior under different conditions such as when a driver is impaired or distracted. CTI’s simulator collection includes a car mounted on actuators with a surround screen, and several motorcycle simulators. They also use desktop and virtual reality simulators.

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Will CT's crackdown on ATVs and dirt bikes lead to fewer street takeovers? Spring will show.

Hearst Connecticut Media  print


"They don't have brake lights, they don't have mirrors and most of them don't have headlights — they don't have a lot of the safety equipment," Eric Jackson, director of the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center at the University of Connecticut, said. "They're not made to be driven on pavement, most of them are made to be driven on dirt roadways.”

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2022 was the deadliest year for car crashes in Connecticut

CT Mirror  online


"Unfortunately, the only thing that we really know that works is more enforcement. We're seeing that with the speed cameras that are being set up in work zones. That as more and more people start getting morning tickets in the mail, we're seeing an improvement in behavior as people drive through work zones," said Eric Jackson, the Executive Director of the Connecticut Transportation Institute and the Director of the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center at the University of Connecticut.

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As Connecticut street takeovers turn deadly, cities look for new ways to stop ATVs, dirt bikes

Hearst Connecticut Media  print


The off-road vehicles are not intended for public streets. "They don't have brake lights, they don't have mirrors and most of them don't have headlights — they don't have a lot of the safety equipment," said Eric Jackson, director of the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center at the University of Connecticut. "They're not made to be driven on pavement, most of them are made to be driven on dirt roadways.”

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Meet the duo behind an ambitious $30M plan to build the region’s first autonomous vehicle test track facility, research center

Hartford Business Journal  print


Such a facility, Jackson and Cortese said, would be a boon for the university and region, helping make UConn a leader in autonomous vehicle research, technology and safety. “My goal is to raise the stature of UConn to a school where world-class research takes place on this technology, and students come to UConn specifically to work with leading faculty on projects that will change the way we travel,” Jackson said. “UConn will be transformational in terms of research and will provide a world-class facility to open opportunities we’ve never had before for the future of transportation.”

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Conn. Transportation Institute aims to prevent wrong-way crashes

WTNH - Channel 8  tv


Eric Jackson, executive director of the Connecticut Transportation Institute, said that in a typical year, there are around three to five wrong-way crashes, but this year, they’ve already seen 11 on the roadways with five months to go. “What we see is the vast majority of fatal wrong-way crashes involve a driver that’s impaired by either drugs or alcohol,” Jackson said. Jackson said the wrong-way crashes aren’t happening because of bad signage or confusing on-and-off ramps, but rather, this is a human behavior issue.

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Fatal wrong-way crashes on the rise in Conn.

WFSB  tv


Officials and experts are now discussing what can be done to stop wrong-way drivers. Eric Jackson heads up the Connecticut Transportation Research Safety Center based at UConn. The center collects data and analyzes crashes around Connecticut. Jackson says may times crashes often have at least one if not more high-risk factors like speeding, drugs, or alcohol. He says sometimes there is even a lack of seatbelts. “Right now, what we’re also looking at are other states seeing this issue. Are there other states seeing wrong-way drivers? Hopefully we’ll have an answer for that soon,” says Jackson.

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Deadly wrong-way crashes are up in Connecticut. What's being done about it?

Fox 61  tv


This is where at Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center at the University of Connecticut comes in. The center collects and analyzes crash data across the state as they find the most effective ways to stop wrong-way drivers. "We're really starting to look into the causes of those crashes and we're trying to understand why they're happening and how we can prevent those in the future," said Eric Jackson, the center’s director. "We've been working on developing what's called wrong-way rumble strips so that if you drive across these rumble strips the correct direction there's very little vibration in the roadway and back into your vehicle but if you drive the wrong direction it feels as though you have a flat tire.”

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With e-scooters popping up in CT, are the state’s streets safe enough for them?

Hearst Connecticut  print


Eric Jackson, the executive director of the Connecticut Transportation Institute at the University of Connecticut, which oversees the state’s Crash Data Repository, said it’s difficult to get an idea of how many accidents involve scooters statewide because there’s no category capturing data specifically on the vehicles. The crashes, he said, seem like an “abnormality as of now, just due to increased risk-taking behavior post COVID. “I think these might just be a symptom of the bad driver behavior we are seeing all over the place now and less on scooter or moped use,” Jackson said.

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State On Record Pace for Wrong-Way Driving Deaths

NBC Connecticut  tv


Unlike Rhode Island, Connecticut has a slightly different set of challenges: more square mileage, and, more impaired drivers…at least on a percentage-wise basis. “When we started looking at what percentage of our fatalities are due to an impaired driver, Connecticut’s always in the upper 30s to 40% of our fatalities are impaired driving-related, I think the last year that the stats have been released on in 2020, Montana was at 46% and Connecticut was 40%. We were the top two states in the country in terms of impaired driving," Jackson said. At the same time, crash data experts like Jackson are researching other ways to alert wrong-way drivers, including rumble strips that will make noise if people drive the wrong way over them, plus other innovations.

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Dangerous drivers increasing on roadways in Conn.

WTNH - Channel 8  tv


Connecticut’s highways have been less congested because of the pandemic, but more crashes and deaths have been reported in 2020 and 2021. Our roads are now deadlier than they’ve ever been and there are fewer police and less enforcement on Connecticut roadways. “We are seeing a record number of fatalities over the past few months and over the past few years,” said Dr. Eric Jackson, Executive Director for the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center.

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State Seeing Deadly Trend on Roadways

NBC Connecticut  tv


“Our year-to-date trends are around 30 to 40 fatalities higher than they have been, probably in the past 20 to 30 years,” said Eric Jackson, director of the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center (CTSRC) at the University of Connecticut. Jackson said during the pandemic, with fewer cars on the road, speeds began to escalate into the 80 and 90 mile per hour range. Those higher speeds, according to motorists we spoke with Tuesday, still exist on some roadways.

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Researchers found sharp increase in deadly car crashes following Connecticut’s early COVID-19 pandemic restrictions

Hartford Courant  print


The research codifies what has been reported by transportation officials and law enforcement immediately in the weeks that followed the early COVID-19 restrictions. By the beginning of May, 25 more people died in crashes in the state this year than last, according to Eric Jackson, executive director of the Connecticut Transportation Institute at the University of Connecticut. The figures, Jackson said, were 87 deaths through May 1 in 2020 and 62 deaths during the same period in 2019.

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There are fewer cars on the roads during Connecticut’s stay-at-home order, but there are more deadly crashes, data show

Hartford Courant  print


Tempted by the open roads created by coronavirus stay-at-home rules, drivers are speeding and causing more deadly wrecks than in the past two years, UConn crash data show. As of May 1, 25 more people died in crashes in the state this year than last. Eighty-seven people have died in crashes in 2020, compared to 62 who died in the same time period last year, according to Eric Jackson, executive director of the Connecticut Transportation Institute at the University of Connecticut.

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As pot proliferates, new concerns behind the wheel

FOX61  online


Eric Jackson, the director of the research center said, “there’s very little research on impairment and marijuana and alcohol are not the same.” Jackson and his team are trying to push for the technology that would do the same type of thing that a breathalyzer does for alcohol detection -- but such devices don’t exist yet.

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Groundbreaking documentary focuses on distracted driving

ABC  tv


We're back now with an eye-opening new warning about distracted driving. As we kick off distracted driving awareness month. The national safety soul says nine Americans die in distracted driving accidents a day. Now a look at what keeps your eyes off the road. Reporter: Some are calling this the new drunk driving. Take your eyes off the road for just a few seconds. As you're about to see, a few seconds could be all it takes.

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Driving their safety message with ‘Every Second Matters’ symposium



The strategy of the "Every Second Matters" Symposium is to drive home driving safety messages, especially when it comes to distracted driving. The event was a collaboration between the Travelers Institute and the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center at UConn.

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UConn sim lab dedicated to safer driving

FOX61  online


According to Eric Jackson, the director of the transportation safety research center at UConn, the simulator will help educators, students and the public, better understand the increasing presence of autonomous vehicles. "There are substantial safety benefits that will come from automated self-driving cars," Jackson said. "And it's not just self driving cars, it's connected vehicles too."

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Hoping for a test drive: UConn, area towns interested in self-driving cars

Journal Register  print


Eric Jackson, a research professor at UConn’s School of Engineering and the director of the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center, reached out to the town of Mansfield about applying for the program, and interim Town Manager John Carrington said recently town staff is supportive of the idea. Jackson said UConn would be a good setting for the program, testing the technology in its shuttle system on campus. Jackson said he has meetings set up with university officials to discuss the program, and said he already has had talks with an autonomous vehicle company that is testing the technology at the University of Michigan. Jackson said that testing the technology at UConn would be a boon to the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center, which examines crash data in hopes of finding ways to reduzce the number of crashes and crash fatalities in the state. “Having that research here in a hands-on way would expand our research and really help us see the potential impact of this technology,” he said.

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Connecticut May Use High Tech Tools to Stop Wrong-Way Drivers

NBC News  tv


Since many of the drivers in wrong-way crashes don't survive, it's difficult to determine where they got onto the highway going the wrong way. "Knowing exactly where to put those in is going to be the challenging part," Eric Jackson with the UConn Crash Data Repository, said. "To determine exactly where those hot spots are and those confusing interchanges where people are going the wrong way."

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Connecticut sees rise in pedestrian deaths

New Haven Register  print


With the number of deaths totalling more than 50 in 2016, the state reached the highest number of pedestrian fatalities related to motor vehicle accidents since 1995, said Eric Jackson, director of the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center, which runs the crash data repository at UConn. Data is still being compiled and updated, Jackson said, but a search on the repository this week revealed that there were 54 pedestrian fatalities from motor vehicle crashes already reported for last year.

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Event Appearances (4)

Analysis of a Method for Bias Reduction in Electronic Travel Surveys

The 2012 91st annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board  Washington, DC - 2012

Contingent Valuation of Built Environment elements Using Personalized Scenarios

The 2011 90th annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board  Washington, DC - 2011

Digital Preservation of a Highway Photolog Film Archive in Connecticut.

The 2012 91st annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board  Washington, DC - 2012

Analysis of Real-World Lead Vehicle Operation for the Integration of Modal Emissions and Traffic Simulation Models

The 2010 89th annual meeting of the Transportation Research Boar  Washington, DC - 2010

Articles (6)

Traffic is down on American highways during the pandemic, but vehicle deaths are up – here’s how to stay safe on the road

The Conversation

Eric Jackson and Marisa Auguste


Although there are fewer cars on America’s roads since the pandemic began, the number of fatal car crashes has increased. Early nationwide data supports this counterintuitive finding: Although daily trips from households fell by as much as 35% in 2020, preliminary traffic fatality count data for the first nine months of 2020 shows 28,190 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes - a 4.6% increase compared with the same period in 2019. The same trend has been reported in countries outside the U.S., such as Australia, where less traffic has not produced fewer road deaths.

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Analysis of Real-World Lead Vehicle Operation for the Integration of Modal Emissions and Traffic Simulation Models.

Journal of the Transportation Research Board

Jackson, Eric and L. M. Aultman-Hall


New models and data are needed in microscopic traffic simulation tools to allow effective use with newer modal tailpipe emissions models. Traffic simulation models offer the ability to simulate large, second-by-second vehicle operation data sets as input for emissions models. However, more data are needed to improve simulation of second-by-second vehicle speed. This research analyzes and models the vehicle dynamics of unconstrained drivers in real-world driving situations based on road geometry. Vehicle dynamics data were collected by using an instrumented vehicle driven by 22 volunteers over a 17-mi predetermined test route. The objective of this research was to analyze and model the nonrandom speed variations in unconstrained lead drivers. The results of this study suggest that horizontal and vertical curvatures have a significant impact on the second-by-second operation of an unconstrained lead vehicle. Furthermore, these nonrandom changes in speed are important considerations since they can produce considerable variations in the level of tailpipe emissions.

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Modal Analysis of Vehicle Operation and Particulate Emissions from Connecticut Transit Buses

Transportation Research Record

Jackson, Eric and Britt Holmen


Transit buses represent a significant source of particulate exhaust emissions, especially in urban areas, but few previous studies have quantified these emissions by using real-world, onboard sampling while the vehicles operate in the transportation network. In this study, real-world particle number emissions for hybrid diesel–electric (HDE) and conventional diesel (CD) buses are examined for various vehicle operating conditions and road types in the Hartford, Connecticut, region. The results presented in this paper are based on analysis of the unique second-by-second Connecticut Transit on-road transit bus emissions and operations data set collected between January and November 2004. The modal analysis results indicate that hybrid buses operate differently than do conventional diesel buses. Although the distributions of vehicle specific power (VSP) values (in kw) were similar for the two bus types, the distributions of engine operation parameters (load and speed) were different. More important, VSP alone cannot be used to distinguish between vehicle types for modeling engine operation of, and possibly emissions from hybrid and conventional vehicles. Furthermore, modal analysis of ultrafine particle emissions indicates that in some situations the HDE buses do not outperform the CDs and may even produce higher emission rates than do the CD buses tested. Thus, there are routes and conditions in which transit authorities should avoid the use of HDE buses similar to those tested here when particle emissions are of concern. The observed high particle emissions on steep uphill grades for hybrids indicate that careful route selection for hybrid buses is warranted to optimize the environmental benefits of the hybrid vehicles.

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Driver and Road Type Effects on Light-Duty Gas and Particulate Emissions

Transportation Research Record

Jackson, Eric, Yingge Qu, Britt Holmén and Lisa Aultman-Hall


An instrumented minivan on a 30-mi (48-km) test route was used to measure second-by-second vehicle operating characteristics as well as tailpipe particulate and gas emissions. The research objectives were (a) to quantify the variability of gas and particulate emissions between 12 drivers and (b) to measure the relative emissions levels on freeways, signalized arterials, rural two-lane arterials, and local roads. The results reaffirm that individual drivers significantly affect emissions levels. All emissions concentrations were also systematically related to road type. Furthermore, drivers could be grouped by emissions level, but these groupings differed by pollutant and by road type. More data are needed to elucidate driver–road type interactions and to characterize the regional driver pool for more robust microscale emissions models. The relative importance of driver type compared with the importance of other factors known to affect emissions needs to be quantified. Finally, two key issues were identified as affecting the accuracy of instantaneous emissions measurements: instrument response time effects on data alignment and accurate quantification of the full range of on-road exhaust flow rates.

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Jackson, Eric, Lisa Aultman-Hall, Britt Holmén and Jianhe Du

Transportation Research Record

Jackson, Eric, Lisa Aultman-Hall, Britt Holmén and Jianhe Du


This paper evaluates the ability of Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers to determine accurately the second-by-second operating mode of a vehicle in the real-world transportation network. GPS offers the ability to obtain second-by-second velocity directly and to obtain acceleration data indirectly from a vehicle traveling in the real-world traffic network. Although GPS has been used successfully in travel behavior and route choice surveys, the uncertainty in accuracy of velocity and acceleration data obtained from the GPS warrants further investigation to gain a better understanding of the range and spatial distribution of vehicle emissions. In this study, data from two GPS receivers and a Scan-Tool were collected over five repetitions of a 65-mi route. The results indicate that GPS receivers perform as well as the ScanTool when measuring velocity. Furthermore, the GPS receivers determined the 1-s operating mode of the vehicle successfully when measured against the ScanTool. These results will aid in the future development of vehicle emissions models and allow for an analysis of real-world emissions based on real-world operating mode data.

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Models Relating Pavement Quality Measures

Transportation Research Record

Aultman-Hall, Lisa, Eric Jackson, Charlie Dougan and Soon-Nai Choi


A large field-measured international roughness index (IRI) data set was collected in the summer and fall of 2001 on 650 highway kilometers with sections containing full-depth hot-mixed asphalt (HMA) and HMA over portland cement; the set was used to investigate the relationships between IRI, rutting, and pavement cracking. Parametric statistical analysis, linear regression, and neural network models were used with a large database of 65,530 observations (10-m intervals). The goal was to investigate the relationship between both rutting and cracking (estimated from photolog images obtained at the same time field data were collected) and IRI. Specifically, the objective was to determine if these relationships were consistent enough to allow IRI, the more easily measured quantity, to be used as a surrogate for the others or if the effort and resources to collect all three measures were necessary in pavement management programs. The results indicate that while statistically significant relationships exist between IRI and both cracking and rutting, these relationships are not strong enough for IRI to be used as a surrogate measure for pavement condition. The weak predictive relationships are further evidenced by the lack of success in training a neural network that could significantly outperform linear regression models. It was concluded that IRI, while appropriate for measuring rideability, was not appropriate for measuring cracking or rutting.

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