By Li Leung, Linda Ng Boyle, William C. Davie Jr., and Tanya Rodríguez
Have you ever heard that it is safer to fly than to drive? That factoid—based on data and statistics from the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and National Transportation Safety Board—is provided by a transportation statistician.
Transportation touches almost everything we do—how we get to work, how goods get to market, and how we travel for fun. Information is collected for some transportation modes, such as aviation, highway, marine, mass transit, pipeline, and rail. Other transportation statisticians are thinking of new ways to measure movement such as using smart phones to measure pedestrian activity or GPS devices to track bicycle trips.
A transportation statistician can be involved in devising new ways to capture information and may use some of the data available to measure or project safety risks and fatalities, improve logistics for freight delivery, or help develop plans and policies that can change the way the world moves.
Being a transportation statistician offers opportunities to promote many people’s lifestyles and movement of goods and services, thus playing an indirect, but key, role in society. Statistics on all aspects of transportation are important, as they are used to help determine how to allocate funds to improve the roads, bridges, waterways, railways, and airports used around the clock to transport people and goods throughout the United States. Both transportation and statistics are interdisciplinary; hence they intertwine with urban planning, economics, business, engineering, computer science, politics, and research. There are opportunities in the private and public sectors, as well as in academia.
A career as a transportation statistician can be rewarding, with challenges that incorporate new policy objectives, foster new discoveries, and generate new knowledge extension. The transportation statistician provides reliable data-driven information to decisionmakers and can make a difference in improving our world.
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