James R. Sayer | Faculty

Director, UMTRI

University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, Room 158 2901 Baxter Rd. Ann Arbor, MI 48109


(734) 764-4159, fax (734) 936-1081

Research Interests

Dr. Jim Sayer is Director of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.  In addition, he conducts both basic and translational research in the areas of advanced vehicle safety systems, human interaction with highly automated vehicles, connected vehicle and infrastructure technology, naturalistic driving behavior, driver distraction, and pedestrian safety.   He is an internationally recognized leader in the conduct and evaluation of field operational tests of vehicle safety systems, connected vehicle technology, and the study of naturalistic driving behavior.  He also has an appointment as Adjunct Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.


Dr. Sayer is Chair of the University’s Institutional Autonomous System Committee, and is overseeing the development of a university-wide mobility education initiative.  Previously he has served a variety of roles on the University’s Health and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board, including Chair, Co-Chair, and Full Board member.


  • 2015 White House Transportation Champion of Change, Award recognizing exemplary leadership in advancing transportation and championing innovation that will benefit our nation’s transportation system
  • Intelligent Transportation Society of America, 2014 President's Award, Connected Vehicle 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

Key Projects

Dr. Sayer was the lead architect of the autonomous and connected vehicle test facility known as Mcity (2013 – 2015) having conceived of, designed, and overseen its construction.  He has served as the Principal Investigator of the Ann Arbor Connected Environment (2019 – 2020), the U.S. DOT’s Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment (2015 – 2019), and U.S. DOT’s Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Model Deployment program (2011 – 2015).

Student Engagement

Dr. Sayer has worked with and supported more than two dozen post doctoral candidates, master’s students, and undergraduate students at UMTRI since 1993.


St. Clair Shores, MI

Personal Interests/Hobbies

Woodworking, single grain Lowland Scotch whisky

Additional Information

Dr. Sayer's Website

ORCID: 0000-0001-8180-7604

Scopus ID: 57195268498