Portrait of James Sayer

James R. Sayer

Adjunct Professor


  • Ph.D., Industrial and Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1993
  • M.S., Industrial and Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1991
  • B.S., Biopsychology, The University of Michigan, 1988
  • B.S., Electrical Engineering, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, 1994

Research Interests

Dr. Sayer conducts both basic and translational research in the areas of advanced vehicle safety systems, naturalistic driving behavior, driver distraction, driver vision and pedestrian conspicuity. His research findings are utilized by vehicle manufacturers and suppliers in support of the design, development and deployment of safety technologies, as well as by government agencies in establishing policies and regulations related to vehicle safety technologies and driver behavior. Dr. Sayer’s research has led to or supported the development of both national and international standards for motor vehicle advanced safety systems engineering and pedestrian conspicuity. He is an internationally recognized leader in the conduct and evaluation of field operational tests of motor vehicle safety systems and the study of naturalistic driving behavior. Dr. Sayer recently served as the Principle Investigator for the U.S. DOT’s Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Model Deployment program, and is the Deployment Director of the Michigan Mobility Transformation Center, and Head of the Human Factors Group at UMTRI.

Professional Service

  • ​Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
  • Surface Transportation Technical Group
  • International Standards Organization (ISO)
  • TC 204 WG14
  • Transportation Research Board
  • Vehicle User Characteristics and Visibility Committees


  • Intelligent Transportation Society of America, 2014 President’s Award, Safety Pilot Model Deployment Program
  • Society of Automotive Engineers Excellence in Oral Presentation Award, SAE 2012 Government/Industry Meeting
  • Intelligent Transportation Society of America, 2008 Best of ITS, Best Innovative Product or Service, Integrated Vehicle-Based Safety System program.


  • Xiong, Huimin, Bao, S, Sayer, JR (In Press). Factors Affecting Drivers’ Cellphone Use Behavior: Implications from a naturalistic study. Journal of the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting.
  • LeBlanc, D. J., Bao, S., Sayer, J. R. and Bogard (2013). Longitudinal driving behavior with integrated crash-warning system: Evaluation from naturalistic driving data. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, Volume 2365.
  • Funkhouser, D. S. and Sayer, J. R. (2012). A census of naturalistic cell phone usage. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, Volume 2321.
  • Bao, S., LeBlanc, D. J., Sayer, J. R., and Flannagan, C. A. (2012). The impact of integrated crash warning system on heavy truck drivers’ time headway maintenance. Human Factors, 54(3).
  • Bao, S., Sayer, J.R., LeBlanc, D. J., and Flannagan, C. A. (2012). Modeling factors related to the likelihood of seatbelts use with naturalistic driving data. Journal of Transportation Research Part F. In press.   
  • Tuttle, S. J., Sayer, J. R. and Buonarosa, M. L. (2009). The conspicuity of first-responder safety garments. Journal of Safety Research. Vol. 40 (3), pp. 191-196.
  • Sayer, J. R., Wetzel, J. M. and Funkhouser, D. (2009). An examination of naturalistic windshield wiper usage. International Journal of Heavy Vehicle Systems. Vol. 16(3), 328-340.
  •  Buonarosa, M. L., Sayer, J. R. and Flannagan, M. J. (2008). Real-world frequency of use of automotive lighting equipment. Leukos. Vol. 5(2), 139-146.
  • Sayer, J. R. and Mefford, M. L. (2008). The role of garment design and scene complexity in the daytime conspicuity of high-visibility safety apparel. Journal of Safety Research. Vol. 39(3), 2008, 281-286.
  • Devonshire, J. M. and Sayer, J. R. (2005). Radiant heat and thermal comfort in vehicles. Human Factors, 47(4), 827-839.
  • Sayer, J. R. and Mefford, M. L. (2004). High-visibility safety apparel and the nighttime conspicuity of pedestrians in work zones. Journal of Safety Research, 35(5), 537-546.