Professor Pete Thomas

  • Emeritus Professor in Road and Vehicle Safety
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  • Pete Thomas is the Emeritus Professor of Road and Vehicle Safety at Loughborough University and a leading figure in the development of road and vehicle safety policy resources. He has led the establishment of the European Road Safety Observatory and has advised the European Commission on its Road Safety Policy Orientations to 2020. He has co-ordinated several large  international research projects to develop tools to support road safety policy development that together had a value of around €30 m. His work in improving road safety evidence has resulted in three awards of the Prince Michael International road safety award.

    Pete joined the University in 1982 when, working with many colleagues, he established what is now the Transport Safety Research Centre as the university’s focus for applied research in this area. Taking a strong externally focussed approach the TSRC has developed very strong research partnerships with governments, industry and other research institutes around the world and conducted many studies. Key characteristics of the research are the applied nature so that there are immediate direct impacts and also the collaborative nature of research – most of the projects have been in partnership.

    With the strong support of the School and University Pete has been able to focus on research with minimal teaching load. This has enabled Pete and the wider TSRC to develop an exceptional research profile that has been recognised academically and internationally over a 40-year period. He has led the development of cross-university research initiatives in the area of smart mobility (Research and Innovation in Safe and Smart Mobility) and developed collaborative approaches with regional universities as well as being the academic lead during the development of the Smart Mobility Living Lab.

    Pete is a specialist in the area of road and vehicle safety, accident and injury causation and connected and automated mobility having published over 200 research. His particular areas of research interest include accident causation analysis, characterisation of driver behaviour, forecasting societal impacts of future mobility systems and the safety assurance of future automated vehicle technologies. More recently Pete’s interests have broadened to include the area of intelligent mobility, of which new safety technologies form a part. The research field includes human-machine interface evaluations, monitoring and outcomes assessment of ITS and systems integration of vehicle and infrastructure technologies. He is closely involved in the development and evaluation of automated driving systems.

    Pete is now an Emeritus Professor at Loughborough and is Technical Coordinator for the €5.8m H2020 project Levitate ( He now concentrates on supporting new research within the TSRC through new research initiatives, PhD students and other research development activities.

    Research Group: Transport Safety Research Centre.

    Pete continues to publish his most recent research on the impacts of future mobility systems and on the nature of normal driving behaviour.

    Road Safety

    Accident causation, human factors, vehicle engineering and safety, injury mitigation, protective systems, safe systems, safety performance indicators, accident data analysis, Impact evaluation and forecasting, crash prevention, advanced driver assistance systems, infrastructure design, post-crash measures, international comparisons of road safety, driving simulator, sub-micro simulation methods, network analysis,

    Automated driving

    Automated vehicle evaluation and benchmarking, functional safety, systems specification of safety requirements, regulations and protocols for automated vehicle testing and introduction to fleet, human driver requirements for automated vehicles, human driver monitoring systems, transition of control between human and vehicle, real-world performance of automated systems, impact of automation on safety.

    Spotlight research projects include

    • Levitate societal impacts of automated vehicles - Developing a project support tool to forecast the societal impacts of connected and automated transport systems - 2018 - €5.8 million
    • Smart Mobility Living Lab - London Testbed for connected and automated mobility systems - 2018 - £17 million
    • SafetyCube (Safety CaUsation, Benefits and Efficiency) - Developing a policy tool to support the development of EU and national road safety policies - 2015 - €5.5 million
    • SaferWheels Causation factors in real-world motorcycle collisions - EU funded project to support future EU motorcycle safety policies - 2015 - €1 million
    • DACOTA – Road Accident Data Collection Transfer and Analysis - EU funded project to develop data and analytic resources on support of global road safety policies - 2010 - €4 million
    • EuroNCAP - Real-world performance of Electronic Stability Control systems Analysis of real-world performance of ESC systems - 2007     
    • Road Accident Investigation Studies - In-depth investigation of road accident causation - 2000 - £7 million
    • Cooperative Crash Injury Study - Real-world performance of injury mitigation systems in cars - 1982-2000 - £15 million

    Research Prizes

    1. Prince Michael of Kent International Road Safety Award 2019
    2. Prince Michael of Kent International Road Safety Award 2019
    3. Prince Michael of Kent International Road Safety Award 2014
    4. Queens' Anniversary Prize 2007
    5. US Government Award for Engineering excellence 2005


    • European Transport Safety Council 1999 – 2021
    • Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety 1985 – 2021


    Participation in 67 projects in the field of vehicle safety, accident causation and safety policy development. Projects conducted for UK Department for Transport, Irish Road Safety Authority, European Commission, regional administrations, car manufacturers, and suppliers. Advisor on road vehicle automation to UK Department for Transport, Irish Road safety Agency, Austrian government. Advisor to EuroNCAP vehicle consumer testing organisation. Advisor to Automotive insurers on road automated vehicles and road safety. Advisor to Centre for Connected and Automated Vehicles – a UK Government Agency promoting the introduction of future mobility services.

    Academic participation in knowledge sharing and research initiatives with institutions in EU Member States, China, Australia, USA and India. Academic quality reviewer and member of board for scientific journals (4). International research advisor for Belgian Road Safety Institute. Research proposal reviewer for UK, Sweden, Switzerland, India. Member of scientific committees for conferences (7).

    Recipient of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Road Safety (2007), Prince Michael of Kent International Road Safety Award (2013, 2019, 2019). US NHTSA award for Engineering Excellence (2003).

    Current PhD students

    Anna-Maria Sourelli – Perceived and objective risks in complex overtaking manouevres

    Elena Fratini – How will road users’ interaction with road vehicles evolve with greater levels of automation