Jerry Bollinger, PE, PTOE, RSP1 is a senior engineer who is passionate about helping clients develop transportation solutions that better their communities. He is the lead traffic engineer for CMT’s Indianapolis and Kansas City offices, and he serves as lead designer on larger transportation/roadway design projects as well as project manager for smaller transportation projects. In 2021, Jerry was named Transportation Professional of the Year by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Great Lakes District. Jerry joined the firm in 2013 and works from our office in downtown Kansas City.
What is the Road Safety Professional certification?
It’s a professional certification that recognizes road safety as a profession. It also establishes a necessary level of practice and knowledge for the people who make decisions or take actions that potentially impact the safety of the traveling public, and then incentivizes safety education within our profession. The certification is helping to ensure that safety is always at the forefront of our minds.
What motivated you to pursue the RSP certification?
There were a lot of factors that went into it. One of the initial drivers was a recommendation from CMT leadership. At that point, I was interested in safety but had not yet elevated it to a focal point of my career. When the leadership suggested the certification, I thought, “That’s a leadership and growth opportunity for me,” and I embraced it. Scott Knebel and his team in Ohio – they are industry leaders in transportation safety. This certification presented an opportunity to expand that knowledge more broadly across CMT, as well as add capacity to provide safety insight and expertise to our clients and partners.
Bigger picture, I was motivated by the outcome of bringing value to our clients and their communities by keeping people safer. And in turn, I’m safer, and those I care about the most are safer.
What were some of the key lessons you took from your RSP exam preparation?
One of the big things emphasized throughout the program is focusing on the energy involved in the crashes. If you imagine yourself walking down the sidewalk at a slow pace and you collide with someone else also walking along slowly, you’ll likely just say, “Excuse me” and go about your day. But if you’re both jogging and all of a sudden run into one another, that’s going to hurt a little. You can imagine that the more you keep speeding up, the more it will hurt – the same goes with traffic accidents. The higher speeds, the higher that transfer of energy between the two, and that’s where more serious crashes occur. One of the big takeaways was to always be asking ourselves, “How do we focus on energy and energy transfer? And how do we make changes so that there’s not so much of a transfer, so that hopefully we don’t have as severe crashes?”
What that means in practice is managing speed and making speed appropriate for the environment. This could mean, for example, timing signals in a way that encourages drivers to travel at the speed limit. Another example could be putting in raised median sections to visually make a road feel narrower. Both examples use infrastructure to cause a behavioral adjustment to driving patterns.
How has the knowledge from the certification empowered you to provide additional value to clients and their communities?
One of the biggest benefits was the reinforcement of the lesson to take a broader view of things. I had already learned this from working with Cassie Reiter, Adam Burns, and others – how to step back and say, “OK, how does this design choice impact the area around it?” But now I’m more equipped to do so from a safety standpoint.
Coming at things from a context-sensitive perspective changes how we configure our infrastructure. To do our best work means bringing together multidisciplinary teams that can look at projects from many different angles – not just from an infrastructure standpoint, but from a behavior standpoint, from an emergency-response standpoint, and all these different lenses that people look through. Doing so allows you to incorporate critical considerations that we, as engineers, wouldn’t necessarily pick up on, because we don’t have that other viewpoint that drives the perceptions and opinions of others.
What is the broader applicability of road safety principles, beyond those projects that are specifically designated as safety-focused?
Safety is infused in all of our infrastructure projects, regardless of if there’s a safety issue that has caused the project to come about. We always need to be cognizant of safety because we have the traveling public’s safety in our hands with our designs.