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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Protecting Pedestrians and Bicyclists, One Safer Truck at a Time


Transportation Trajectories

Dr. Alex Epstein
Volpe Engineer

In the coming years, the simultaneous rapid growth of urban freight and walking and bicycling in the U.S. threatens to increase truck-involved casualties, which are already overrepresented relative to trucks’ share of vehicles on the road today.

Volpe’s research into both proven and new crash avoidance and mitigation technologies for trucks is shaping a new pillar of cities’ Vision Zero programs, as well as advancing U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s bicycle-pedestrian safety priority. One specific safety technology—side underride guards—further extends to the tantalizing potential co-benefit of fuel efficiency, implying attractive payback and a pathway to accelerated adoption.

In this talk, Dr. Alex Epstein highlighted side guards and other technologies that Volpe is studying and helping deploy with partner cities to address the deadliest road crashes: those between large trucks and pedestrians or bicyclists. 

Volpe worked with the City of Boston to craft the nation’s first ordinance requiring side guards on trucks. The technology, shown at top-right on a Boston Public Works truck, helps protect pedestrians and bicyclists. (Volpe photos)

About the Speaker

Alex EpsteinDr. Alex Epstein is an engineer in Volpe's Center for Policy, Planning, and Environment. His work focuses on safety technology for vulnerable road users, energy sustainability for transportation facilities, and mobility in data-rich “smart cities.”

Dr. Epstein leads vehicle-based safety research in New York City and Boston, supporting recently announced Vision Zero initiatives and ordinances related to truck safety. He also analyzes greenhouse gas reduction technologies and strategies for the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, and other agencies.   

Dr. Epstein holds a PhD in engineering sciences from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, where his research focused on mechanical design of pipeline materials, and a BS in general engineering from the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, where he was a member of the second graduating class.


View the video from the event.