“Wait, what? You have a PhD and you work where?!?”

I always find it interesting to find out about people who pursue careers outside the academy after completing a PhD. Org Theory has a new guest blogger who has done precisely this and whose first post describes the kind of work that he does:

We have two units within our branch here at DMV Research and Development (R&D).  I work in the Driver Competency and Safety Projects Unit; there is also the Alcohol and Impaired Driving Unit.  The distinction between the units is not substantial – many projects involve collaboration between researchers, and in many cases we use very similar types of data and methods to conduct our projects.

In general, I’ve worked on projects that involve the screening, testing, and assessment of physical, visual, and mental functions that may affect driving.  If you’ve ever read a newspaper article about some tragic incident where someone pressed on the accelerator instead of the brake, and drove into a fast-food restaurant, you may have wondered “gee, I wonder if anyone’s doing research on this problem?”  The answer is “yes,” and I’m one of the people that works on that type of question (if you’re curious, such incidents often involve some element of cognitive impairment – such as occurs in early-stage dementia).  The kinds of projects that I’ve worked on as a researcher include: (1) evaluating the results of a pilot project that used novel screening and education tools to identify drivers that may be at risk of unsafe driving due to a physical, visual, or cognitive impairment; (2) calculating projections about the number of cases DMV may see in the next few years of drivers who are referred for evaluation due to a medical problem of one type or another; (3) developing a method by which we can determine the reliability and validity of a drive test that we use (rarely) for persons who drive in extremely limited circumstances, on defined routes or in bounded areas.


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