Motao Zhu, MD, MS, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Injury Control Research Center, has been appointed to the National Transportation Research Board’s Committee on Operator Education and Regulation.  Dr. Zhu is one of 15 committee members who are considered experts in their field. The committee studies and supports research and development activities designed to improve the effectiveness of methods of educating and training in the field of surface transportation vehicles, including licensing of drivers and operators. The committee gives special focus to high risk driver groups such as teens and seniors.  The Transportation Research Board is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council (NRC), a private nonprofit institution that provides expertise in science and technology to the government, public and the scientific and engineering communities. The NRC is jointly administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine.

Zhu's main research interest is the epidemiology of travel behaviors and traffic safety including calling and texting while driving, driving regulations for adolescents under age 18, traffic injuries in Appalachia, and medication and drug use among senior drivers.  He was recently awarded a $546,000 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant covers three years ($182,000 per year). Zhu’s mission is to gauge the effectiveness of states’ laws limiting or banning cell phone use among teens while driving. Over the last 11 years, he has secured more than $2.2 million in funding for his research into motor vehicle and pedestrian safety.