The STC team was saddened to learn of the passing of our friend and colleague, Dr. Ron Knipling, who died on July 5 from complications of Glucagonoma, a rare neuroendocrine cancer.
Dr. Knipling was a scientist who, after receiving his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Maryland in 1975, found his professional calling in the area of traffic safety research with a focus on large truck safety. In 2009, he wrote “Safety for the Long Haul; Large Truck Crash Risk, Causation, & Prevention,” a 625-page book summarizing major facts and principles relating to large truck crash risk, causation, and prevention. In recognition, he was awarded the International Road Transport Union’s Order of Merit. Throughout his career, he authored over 325 technical reports, publications, and professional conference presentations. Dr. Knipling also directly managed or oversaw more than 150 traffic safety research programs.
His career included twelve years as an independent researcher, consultant, and trainer; seven years with Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI); six years with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA); six years with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); and 11 years as a researcher and training developer at Allen Corporation of America. He served as the Founding Chair of the Transportation Research Board Committee on Truck & Bus Safety and as Chair of TRB’s Safety & System User Group, where he coordinated 19 road safety committees. Later in his career, after launching his consulting practice, he devoted approximately 30% of his time to performing pro bono work focusing on research validity, integrity, new needs, and public education.
Dr. Knipling sought authenticity in safety research and was unafraid of challenging research, policy, and rulemaking practices that lacked scientific rigor. While not everyone agreed with Ron, he was highly respected and sought after for his knowledge and expertise. Over his career, he was a crucial and impactful contributor to raising our collective awareness and understanding of large truck crashes and how to mitigate them. Our industry will feel his loss, and he will be missed by all who knew him.