IIHS and HLDI announce new president

September 18, 2017

Harkey speaks at a roundtable on truck underride hosted by IIHS on Aug. 29, 2017.
David Harkey

Harkey speaks at a roundtable on truck underride hosted by IIHS on Aug. 29, 2017.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute are pleased to announce that Dr. David L. Harkey will become the next president of the two traffic safety research organizations in January 2018. Harkey will succeed Dr. Adrian K. Lund, who is retiring after serving as IIHS-HLDI president since 2006.

Harkey, 54, has directed the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center since 2006 and has more than 30 years' experience in road safety research. As an engineer, the majority of his work has focused on improving roadway design and operations for all users, including motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. Harkey has collaborated with IIHS researchers on past projects and in August was the keynote speaker at the Institute's second roundtable on the problem of large truck underride crashes.

The Institutes' work, supported by insurers, has been instrumental in making highways and vehicles safer. IIHS research helped lead to stricter laws on alcohol-impaired driving, graduated licensing laws for teen drivers, higher safety belt use rates, airbags and more crashworthy vehicles. Today, IIHS is a leader in testing and evaluating new technologies on vehicles that can prevent some crashes from happening altogether.

"Our roads and vehicles are much safer today because of the strong and internationally respected work of IIHS and HLDI," Harkey says. "Even with so much progress, it is unacceptable that nearly 100 lives are still lost in crashes every day. As we work with our safety partners toward the goal of zero crash deaths, we will continue to conduct high-quality research about ways to reduce crashes and the deaths, injuries and property damage that result from them. We will build on the Institutes' groundbreaking research and testing of crash avoidance technologies — the foundation for autonomous vehicles — to steer consumers toward the systems that perform the best and speed the adoption of effective systems on all new vehicles. And we are positioned to evaluate current and future automated vehicle technologies at our expanded Vehicle Research Center."

IIHS-HLDI research is guided by the Haddon Matrix, the most commonly used paradigm in the injury prevention field. It shows the problem of motor vehicle crashes can be mitigated by changing one or more factors — people, vehicles and/or the road environment — at any point in the progression of a crash. It is named for Dr. William Haddon Jr., who served as IIHS president from 1969 until his death in 1985. As IIHS-HLDI continues to work with insurers and safety partners on the Road to Zero, Harkey says he will seek new ways to move Institute research to action for safer roads, safer road users and safer vehicles.

"Recognizing that the full benefits of advanced technologies will only accrue decades from now, we need to continue to remind policymakers of the many proven countermeasures we could be deploying more widely right now to save lives. I look forward to working with the Institutes' tremendously talented, dedicated and productive staff to move our mission forward," Harkey says.

The Boards of Directors of IIHS and HLDI launched a search for a new president earlier this year after Lund announced his intention to retire at the close of 2017.

"The search committee interviewed many talented and qualified candidates," says IIHS Board Chairman Floyd Yager. "We believe that Dr. Harkey has the best combination of leadership and research experience to further the Institutes' vital mission and be a strong voice in what is needed to reach zero traffic deaths. We look forward to working with him on the next phase of the Institutes' work." Yager is senior vice president, property product management, at Allstate Insurance Company.

At the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, Harkey has managed more than 40 major research projects and authored more than 80 articles and research reports for federal, state and private sponsors. He has directed numerous projects to develop tools and strategies for enhanced safety analysis, improve safety data for researchers and decision makers and develop training materials for safety practitioners. He holds a doctorate in civil engineering from North Carolina State University and Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in civil engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is actively involved in several professional organizations, including the Transportation Research Board, Institute for Transportation Engineers and Association of Traffic Safety Information Professionals.

Harkey will succeed Lund, who joined the Institutes in 1981. Lund, 68, retires after a distinguished career of substantial and long-lasting contributions to the highway safety field.

Lund's work includes evaluations of the effectiveness of alcohol-impaired driving and safety belt use laws, studies of how speed limit changes affect crash risk and analyses of how vehicle design changes improve crash protection. As IIHS-HLDI president, Lund initiated new crash test programs to inform consumers about the vehicles that provide the best overall protection. He launched the first consumer evaluations of crash prevention technologies and led the $30 million expansion of the Vehicle Research Center to enable testing of current and future automated vehicles. Recent work includes seminal research on the effects of crash avoidance technologies, how crash risk has changed in states that legalized recreational use of marijuana, the benefits of all-offender alcohol interlock laws and how photo enforcement is reducing red light running and speed-related crashes.

"David has the right abilities and qualifications to head the Institutes at this time of tremendous opportunity," Lund says. "His wealth of experience in our field will help insurers continue to lead the way in preventing harm from motor vehicle crashes."

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