The Office of the Vice President for Research recognizes Hesham Rakha, professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering and director of the Center for Sustainable Mobility at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, for creating traffic models that improve the transportation system efficiency, improve transportation safety and reduce automotive emissions.
Rakha’s recent research related to traffic signals has addressed improving the timing of signals to solve unnecessary delay, which is a cause of pollution, and has looked at driver behavior when approaching a yellow light.
Energy-related research includes helping drivers make greener choices, such as by recommending a route that avoids congestion or a route that takes five minutes longer but is actually more economical. Rakha has also created energy and emission models for light- and heavy-duty vehicles to assess the impacts of alternative transportation operational enhancements, such as replacing a traffic signal for a roundabout, re-timing signal timings, and changing the speed limit of a roadway.
He has investigated the impact of different factors on travel time reliability, which is information used by such travel services as MapQuest and variable message signs on highways. In related research, he has looked at how drivers respond to travel information.
He has also examined driver behavior in response to inclement weather and how that impacts traffic flow, and use of cruise control and emissions and fuel consumption.