By Dan Campbell

If you are among the many people who have resumed commuting to work and school, you have no doubt noticed that traffic on local roadways is returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Old Dominion University's next Science Pub will explore the topic of roadway safety. "Preventing Roadway Deaths: It's A Bit More Complicated Than Blaming Drivers" is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at Smartmouth Brewing Co. in Norfolk. Folks are asked to register by Oct. 19.

Bryan E. Porter, associate dean of the Graduate School and professor of psychology, will discuss how drivers are typically the focus of research and programs to reduce traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities. While education, laws and enforcement all impact drivers, they do not tell the whole story. Drivers are influenced by our cultural system, social networks, and our cities, states and countries.

He will encourage attendees to look at the impact of disruptions like COVID-19 and economic factors when considering traffic crashes as a public health problem. He will discuss ideas on how to use new research and programs to manage roadway safety.

"I make the case that the public's near-exclusive focus on blaming 'bad drivers' for traffic crashes ignores the very real, and to me more interesting, problem of societal and cultural impacts that shape behaviors," Porter said. "I want those joining me at Science Pubs to leave the discussion ready to ask themselves and others when they see risky driving, 'What about this road, this time,and in this place created the opportunity for that behavior?'"

Science Pubs ODU is an opportunity for the community to engage with ODU researchers in an informal setting. Join us for a lively and engaging discussion; a curious mind is all that's needed.

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