Peter Savolainen

Peter Savolainen

Peter Savolainen

Interim Chairperson; MSU Foundation Professor


Dr. Peter Savolainen is an MSU Foundation Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. During the course of his academic career, Dr. Savolainen has served as principal investigator (PI) or co-PI on more than $14 million of externally funded research through competitive grant awards from agencies including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, and various state departments of transportation.

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 such roadway features as maximum speed limits, centerline/shoulder rumble strips, and red-light-running cameras at signalized intersections. His research has also advanced fundamental knowledge as to how roadway design, environmental factors, and in-vehicle distractions affect the risk of traffic crashes.

This research has led to the publication of more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and research, highlighted by a series of contributions in the areas of naturalistic driving research, countermeasure evaluation, and crash-injury severity analysis.  Dr. Savolainen 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 Standing Committees on Statistical Methods and Motorcycles and Mopeds. He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Michigan.

Academic Interests

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles; Statistical and Econometric Methods; Transportation Safety Data, Analysis, and Evaluation; Traffic Operations

Research Area
Best Paper Award, Transportation Research Board Standing Committee on Operational Effects of Geometrics, 2017
Best Paper Award, Transportation Research Board Standing Committee on Pedestrians, 2017
Charles W. Schaefer Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research, and Service, Iowa State University Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, 2016
Award for Transportation Excellence Through Research, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Research Advisory Council, 2015
Best Paper Award, Safety Area, Transportation Research Board Data Competition, 2015
Top 5 High Value Research Project, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Research Advisory Council, 2013
Best Paper, Transportation Research Board Standing Committee on Operational Effects of Geometric Design, 2012
Excellence in Civil Engineering Education Fellow, American Society of Civil Engineers, 2009
Outstanding Faculty Service Award, Wayne State University College of Engineering, 2008
Excellence in Civil Engineering Education Fellow, American Society of Civil Engineers, 2008
Ph.D., Civil Engineering, Purdue University, 2006
M.S., Civil Engineering, Purdue University, 2004
B.S., Civil Engineering, Michigan Technological University, 2002
Hamzeie R, PT Savolainen, and TJ Gates, “Driver speed selection and crash risk: Insights from the naturalistic driving study”, Journal of Safety Research, 63, 187-194 (2017).
Wang B, S Hallmark, PT Savolainen, and J Dong, “Crashes and near-crashes on horizontal curves along rural two-lane highways: Analysis of naturalistic driving data”, Journal of Safety Research, 63, 163-169 (2017).
Karabulut-Ilgu A, S. Yao, PT Savolainen, and C. Jahren, “Student perspective on the flipped-classroom approach and collaborative problem-solving process”, Journal of Educational Computing Research, (2017).
Hamzeie R, I Thompson, S Roy, and PT Savolainen, “State-level comparison of traffic fatality data in consideration of marijuana laws”, Transportation Research Record, 2660, 78-85 (2017).
Hamzeie R, B Vafaei, J Kay, PT Savolainen, and TJ Gates, “A short-term evaluation of the transition from a differential to uniform speed limit for trucks and buses on two-lane highways”, Transportation Research Record, 2637, 83-88 (2017).
Kay J, TJ Gates, and PT Savolainen, “Raising speed limits on rural highways: Process for identification of candidate non-freeway segments”, Transportation Research Record, 2618, 58-68 (2017).
Rista E, T Barrette, R Hamzeie, PT Savolainen, and TJ Gates, “Work zone safety performance: A comparison of alternative traffic control strategies”, Transportation Research Record, 2617, 87-93 (2017).
Stapleton S, T Kirsch, TJ Gates, and PT Savolainen, “Predicting yielding compliance at midblock crossing areas based on roadway, traffic, and crosswalk characteristics”, Transportation Research Record, 2661, 95-102 (2017).
Rista E, A Goswamy, B Wang, T Barrette, R Hamzeie, B Russo, G Bou-Saab, and PT Savolainen, “Examining the safety impacts of narrow lane widths on urban/suburban arterials: Estimation of a panel data random parameters negative binomial model”, Journal of Transportation Safety and Security (2017).
Russo BJ, TP Barrette, J Morden, PT Savolainen, and TJ Gates, “Examination of factors associated with use rates after transition from a universal to partial motorcycle helmet use law”, Traffic Injury Prevention, 18 (1), 95-101 (2017).
Gates TJ and PT Savolainen, “Economic analysis of freeway speed limit policy impacts”, Transportation Research Record, 2597, 108-115 (2016).
Russo BJ, PT Savolainen, and TJ Gates, “Development of crash modification factors for installation of high-tension cable median barrier”, Transportation Research Record, 2588, 116-125 (2016).
Savolainen PT, “Examining driver behavior at the onset of yellow in a traffic simulator environment: comparisons between random parameters and latent class logit models”, Accident Analysis & Prevention, 96, 300-307 (2016).
Savolainen PT, A Sharma, and TJ Gates, “Driver decision-making in the dilemma zone – Examining the influences of clearance intervals, enforcement cameras and the provision of advance warning through a panel data random parameters probit model”, Accident Analysis and Prevention, 96, 351-360 (2016).
Davis A, E Hacker, PT Savolainen, and TJ Gates, “A longitudinal analysis of rural interstate fatalities in relation to speed limit policies”, Transportation Research Record, 2514, 21-31 (2015).
Savolainen PT, FL Mannering, D Lord, and MA Quddus, “The statistical analysis of highway crash-injury severities: A review and assessment of methodological alternatives”, Accident Analysis and Prevention, 43 (5), 1666-1676 (2011).