Texas A&M's Hawkins to give traffic talk Monday

H. Gene Hawkins Jr., associate professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University, will give a talk Monday (March 29) at 3 p.m. in Room 203 of the Zachry Engineering Center on campus.H. Gene HawkinsHawkins' talk, "Traffic Control Device Retroreflectivity: Turning Scientific Research into Public Policy," is part of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering's seminar series, sponsored by Parsons.Abstract Traffic control devices are an essential element of the roadway infrastructure as the provide the primary means of communicating vital information to drivers. These devices must function in both daytime and nighttime conditions. Retroreflectivity is the material property that has been incorporated into traffic signs and pavement markings for over 60 years so that they will be visible at night. But until very recently, there have been no retroreflectivity guidelines for minimum performance levels of these devices in the field. In 2008, the Federal Highway Administration revised the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices to include minimum levels of retroreflectivity for traffic signs and the FHWA has announced that they anticipate initiating rulemaking in 2010 to develop guidelines for minimum levels of pavement marking retroreflectivity. This seminar will present the basic science behind sign and marking retroreflectivity, driver visibility needs for signs and markings, how these scientific principles form the basis of rulemaking, how guidelines based on science evolve into public policy, and how the formation of public policy is impacted by public agencies, manufacturers, safety advocates, and others.Biography Dr. H. Gene Hawkins is an associate professor and head of the Transportation and Materials Division in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University. He also holds a joint appointment as a research engineer with the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and serves as an associate director of the Southwest Region University Transportation Center with responsibility for the Transportation Scholars Program at Texas A&M. He received three degrees in civil engineering from Texas A&M. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in Texas.Before joining the Texas A&M faculty, Hawkins worked for TTI for 18 years. Prior to that, he worked in the private sector for consulting firms in Bryan and Houston. Hawkins' primary fields of interest are traffic control devices/systems, traffic control standards, human factors, retroreflectivity and visibility. Hawkins is a nationally recognized expert in the area of traffic control devices and the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Some of his most well-known work includes articles and presentations on the history of the MUTCD and usage guidelines for traffic control devices such as the TxDOT Sign Crew Field Book, Freeway Signing Handbook, and Pavement Marking Handbook.