ANN ARBOR — Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center Wednesday announced 10 new research initiatives and new research agreements with six leading North American universities and research institutions to enhance the development, testing and implementation of new automotive safety innovations across North America.

Two of the new partners — the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study in Ann Arbor and the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.

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The projects were announced at the 2011 Toyota Safety Technology Seminar at the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor. The new projects will research subjects ranging from driver education and collision mitigation to accident reconstruction and enhanced crash data analysis.

A significant expansion in the center’s work, these initiatives build on its initial focus of working to reduce the risk of driver distraction and better protect the most vulnerable traffic populations, including children, teens, seniors and pedestrians.

The initiative will operate on an initial funding budget of $50 million over 5 years, and hopes to announce additional partners and programs over the next year.

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The CSRC also announced the launch of its new Web site,, as part of Toyota’s Environmental, Safety and Quality Communications Web site, The site will offer a cross section of information and research developments from ongoing work of the center and its partners.

Among the new programs:

* University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute: Posture, body shape, and seatbelt fit in senior drivers — An 18-month project to study the relationship between age and seated occupant posture, body shape, and seatbelt fit. The project seeks to determine if senior drivers and passengers sit differently in the vehicle, to characterize exterior body shape, changes that occur with age, and to understand how these factors influence seatbelt fit. The statistical models resulting from the study can be used to better understand senior occupant kinetics and injury patterns in a crash event.

* Washtenaw Area Transportation Study: Washtenaw County Crash Data Archive — A two-year study to explore new models for post-crash accident data collection. The study aims to help prevent future collisions through an improved understanding of information that could be used to make vehicles and U.S. roads and highways safer.

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* Wayne State University School of Medicine: Driver Distraction: Cognitive Model & Validation — A three-year collaborative study to better understand the cognitive aspect of driver distraction. Combining research in the fields of driver behavior, cognitive psychology, and cognitive neuroscience, the project will advance the auto industry’s understanding of a phenomenon that has been widely blamed for many accidents and injuries on U.S. roads and highways. Also, Finite Element Model Development for Vulnerable Populations — A four-and-a-half-year study to develop human body finite element models for children and seniors so that engineers can account for differences in their body characteristics when designing vehicle safety systems. The study aims to close the gap between current safety testing and the actual injuries sustained by these two vulnerable populations, ultimately reducing injuries to all occupants regardless of age.