Faculty/Staff Directory

Peter T. Savolainen

  • Associate Professor
  • Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

Main Office

482A Town Engr
Ames, IA 50011-3232
Phone: 515 294-3381
Fax: 515-294-2689


  • Ph.D. Civil Engineering, Purdue University, 2006
  • M.S. Civil Engineering, Purdue University, 2004
  • B.S. Civil Engineering, Michigan Technological University, 2002

Interest Areas

Dr. Savolainen’s research examines the fundamental nature of road user behavior, particularly how traffic safety and operations are influenced by behavior in consideration of roadway and traffic characteristics. His work in this area has provided important information as to how road user behavior changes in response to roadway features such as centerline rumble strips, steady burn warning lights in construction work zones, and red-light-running cameras at signalized intersections. He is currently the principal investigator (PI) on a project funded under the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) that is utilizing naturalistic driving data to better understand speed selection behavior in response to roadway geometry and traffic conditions. This is one of a series of recent projects that have provided critical guidance on important transportation policy issues. During his academic career, Dr. Savolainen has served as PI or co-PI on more than $9 million of externally funded research through competitive grant awards from agencies including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and various state departments of transportation (DOTs). This research has led to the publication of more than 50 peer-reviewed articles in refereed journals and conference proceedings, highlighted by a series of contributions to the field of crash-injury severity analysis.  This includes a state-of-the-practice paper that details the myriad of methodological issues associated with the analysis of such data. He currently serves on the editorial advisory boards of Accident Analysis and Prevention and Analytic Methods in Accident Research, as well as on the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Safety Data, Analysis, and Evaluation Committee.

Brief Biography

Honors and Awards
  • Expert Panel: Drowsy Driving, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), 2014
  • Daniel B. Fambro Student Paper Award (Advisor of B. Russo), Institute for Transportation Engineers (ITE), 2014
  • Top 5 High Value Research Project, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Research Advisory Council, 2013
  • Best Paper Award, Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on Operational Effects of Geometric Design, 2012
  • Excellence in Civil Engineering Education (ExCEEd) II Fellow, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), 2009
  • ExCEEd Fellow, ASCE, 2008
  • Expert Panel: Office of Behavioral Safety Research Strategic Planning Meeting, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2008
  • Expert Panel: Approaches to the Assessment of Initial Entry Motorcycle Training, NHTSA, 2008

Selected Publications

  1. Gates, T. J., P. T. Savolainen, and H. U. Maria. (2014) "Prediction of Driver Action at Signalized Intersections using a Nested Logit Model," Transportation Research Record, in press.
  2. Gates, T. J., P. T. Savolainen, A. McArthur, P. Andridge, T. Kirsch, S. P. McElmurry. (2014) "A Framework for Suitability Assessment of Non-Traditional Development within the Roadside Right-of-Way." Transportation Research Record, in press.
  3. McArthur, A., P. T. Savolainen, and T. J. Gates. (2014) "Spatial Analysis of Child Pedestrian and Bicycle Crashes: Development of a Safety Performance Function for Areas Adjacent to K-8 Schools," Transportation Research Record, in press.
  4. Barrette, T. P., T. Kirsch, P. T. Savolainen, B. J. Russo, and T. J. Gates. (2014) "A Disaggregate-Level Assessment of Changes to Michigan’s Motorcycle Helmet Use Law on Motorcyclist Injury Outcomes," Transportation Research Record, in press.
  5. Russo, B. J., and P. T. Savolainen. (2014) "An Empirical Analysis of Critical Headway for Drivers Turning Right on Red at Signalized Intersections," ITE Journal, Vol. 84, No. 10, pp. 29-34.
  6. Kay, J., P. T. Savolainen, T. J. Gates, and T. K. Datta. (2014) "Driver Behavior During Bicycle Passing Maneuvers in Response to a Share the Road Sign Treatment," Accident Analysis & Prevention, 70, pp. 92-99 (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2014.03.009).
  7. Russo, B. J., J. J. Kay, P. T. Savolainen, and T. J. Gates. (2014) "Assessing Characteristics Related to the Use of Seatbelts and Cell Phones by Drivers: Application of a Bivariate Probit Model," Journal of Safety Research, Vol. 49, pp. 137-142 (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsr.2014.03.001).
  8. Maistros, A., W. Schneider, and P.T. Savolainen. (2014) "A Comparison of Contributing Factors between Alcohol Related Single Vehicle Motorcycle and Car Crashes," Journal of Safety Research, Vol. 49, pp. 129-135 (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsr.2014.03.002).
  9. Russo, B. J., P. T. Savolainen, W. H. Schneider, and P. C. Anastasopoulos. (2014) "Comparison of Factors Affecting Injury Severity in Angle Collisions by Fault Status Using a Bivariate Ordered Probit Model," Analytic Methods in Accident Research, Vol. 2, pp. 21-29 (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amar.2014.03.001).
  10. Gates, T. J., P. T. Savolainen, T. K. Datta, and B. J. Russo. (2014) "Exterior Roadside Noise Associated with Centerline Rumble Strips as a Function of Depth and Pavement Surface Type," ASCE Journal of Transportation Engineering, Vol. 40, No. 3 (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)TE.1943-5436.0000622).
  11. Kay, J. J., T. J. Gates, P. T. Savolainen, A. McArthur, and B. J. Russo. (2014) "Empirical Models of Demand Levels and Turn-in Rates at Roadside Rest Areas," Transportation Research Record, 2430, pp. 200-206 (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3141/2430-21).
  12. Todd, R. G., T. J. Gates, and P. T. Savolainen (2013) "Evaluating Traveler Preferences and Values for Public Rest Areas," Transportation Research Record, Vol. 2358, pp. 49-56 (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3141/2358-06).
  13. McArthur, A., J. J. Kay, P. T. Savolainen, and T. J. Gates. (2013) "Effects of Public Rest Areas on Fatigue-Related Crashes." Transportation Research Record, Vol. 2386, pp. 16-25 (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3141/2386-03).
  14. Gates, T. J., P. T. Savolainen, T. K. Datta, and R. G. Todd. (2013) "Economic Assessment of Public Rest Areas and Traveler Information Centers on Limited Access Freeways." Transportation Research Record, Vol. 2346/Policy 2013: Finance, Economics, and Equity Considerations, Vol. 2, pp. 63-71 (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3141/2346-08).