Updated – May 2016
The Santos Family Foundation is dedicated to the memory of Robin Santos and her three children, Cristina, Paul Christopher and Peter Santos. All four died in an automobile collision in New Hampshire in 1990. Paul Santos, Jr., Robin’s husband and the father of the three children, survived the collision. In 1999, Paul and his family created the Santos Family Foundation.
The Foundation focuses on improving automobile safety, particularly the crash-worthiness of passenger vehicles.
After examining the efforts of numerous private and public organizations in the field of automobile safety, the Foundation’s first grant funded a three-year, $400,000 effort, by the National Crash Analysis Center of the George Washington University to devise an improved roof crush standard for the automobile industry. Information on the objectives and findings of this project may be found at:
In connection with this same objective, the Foundation granted an initial grant of $75,000 to the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) to work with the Center for Injury Research. The purpose of this grant was to determine the practicability of a stronger roof crush standard to reduce both direct injuries from roof intrusion and injuries from ejection through side windows. This research utilized the Jordan Rollover System (JRS) and determined that the Volvo XC90 provides rollover occupant protection through superior roof strength and other safety features. The Foundation provided an additional $210,500 in grants to CAS: 1. to determine the repeatability of JRS; and 2. to compare the results of JRS testing with the results of static testing by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). In April, 2009, NHTSA did issue a new roof strength standard. The phase-in of the new standard began in 2012, and all passenger vehicles must meet the new standard by 2015.That standard is described at:
In order to provide the public with easily accessible information on auto safety, the Foundation has funded the creation of a website which provides current auto hazards information and a comprehensive collection of motor vehicle hazards documents. For this purpose, the Foundation granted the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI) of Boston, Massachusetts, $275,000 to create this website. Further information on this project may be found at:
For the same purpose, the Foundation has provided $15,000 grant to the Automotive Safety Institute at George Washington University to create publicly available library of landmark auto safety information accumulated by key NHSTA policymakers over the years.
A $20,000 grant to Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) is supporting the development of a new federal standard which will require that heavy trucks be equipped with an autonomous emergency braking system. Such a system automatically decelerates a large truck and mitigates or prevents collisions in the truck’s path in the absence of proper driver response. On October 16, 2015, NHTSA granted petition for rulemaking to establish a safety standard to require automatic forward collision and mitigation systems on certain heavy vehicles.
A $10,000 Foundation grant to the Automotive Safety Research Institute (ASRI) funded a crash test of a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee’s fuel system. The results of the crash test were submitted to NHTSA for consideration in its safety defect investigation of the fuel system in 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees. As a result of this investigation, NHTSA did recall about 1.6 Jeeps in June, 2013
Over the past four years, the Foundation has committed $425,000 to the MIT AgeLab. The initial $100,000 grant funded research on the safety implications of in-vehicle technologies, intelligent vehicle applications and the impact of health on drivers’ behaviors. These funds were matched by the US Department of Transportation, thus doubling the resources available for this work. The findings of this work were presented at a November 15, 2010 conference in Cambridge, MA
A second $100,000 grant to the AgeLab, which also was matched by funds from the US Department of Transportation, funded empirical research on the impact of pacing on driver workload demand. A third $100,000 committment, also matched by DOT funds, is supporting the AgeLab’s assessment of the cognitive demand associated with typical and “expert” in-vehicle voice-based interactions while driving.
Because these AgeLab studies highlight a range of driver distractions, the Foundation has committed an additional $100,000 to determine, from existing data at MIT and at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, whether head position of an automobile driver is a good enough surrogate/estimator of whether the driver’s eyes are off the road and whether technology can be used to detect a driver’s extended look off the road. In short, this most recent grant should allow the AgeLab to analyze the feasibility of a head-based distraction detection system. The Foundation is hopeful that the AgeLab’s work will promote a better understanding by government, car manufactures and the driving public of the impact on driver workload of in-vehicle technologies and the potential for technology to address the problem.
As a result of AgeLab research that indicates that driver gaze can be detected with great accuracy in a range of situations using an in-vehicle camera, the Foundation is committing additional funds for the AgeLab to develop a real-time prototype algorithm for driver gaze classification through an in-vehicle camera. The Foundation is hopeful that this work will lead to an accurate means of informing drivers of excessive off road glances, and is prepared to commit an additional $140,000 to this effort, which will be supplemented by funds from the New England University Transportation Center.
A complementary project is being funded through a $25,000 grant to MIT’s AgeLab to create a publicly available means of evaluating both the projected and demonstrated safety benefit of in- vehicle technologies. The initial work on this rating system was funded by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, and the Santos Foundation grant is intended to allow this work to be completed for public dissemination.
Further information on the work of the AgeLab may be found at:
The Foundation’s most recent grant has been made to the Olin College of Engineering. This $210,000 grant, to be made over a three-year period, will fund student/faculty teams in Olin’s Senior Capstone Program in Engineering (SCOPE) in an effort to explore innovative approaches to improved automobile safety. It is hoped that this project will also support the intellectual development of Olin students in a most creative, productive and practical way.
Further information on the SCOPE work funded by the Santos Family Foundation may be found at:
The Foundation does not invite submissions from the public. Rather, the Foundation prefers to identify specific automobile safety issues and then work with experts who are able to address those issues.
For further information on the Foundation’s grant goals and funding, please contact:
Leonard E. Santos
Santos Family Foundation
4110 SE Hawthorne Blvd., #423
Portland, OR 97214.
Telephone (971) 202-3175
Fax (971) 255-0351
The following reports, funded, at least in part, by the Foundation, are available for viewing online using Adobe’s Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded from the Adobe Web site free of charge.
- Patterns of Head Pose and Eye Pose in Driver Gaze Classification — Fridman, et al. (823 KB)
- Driver gaze estimation without using eye movement — Fridman, et al. (771 KB)
- A Preliminary Assessment of Perceived and Objectively Scaled Workload of a Voicebased Driver Interface — Reimer, et al. (1.3 MB)
- A Field Study Assessing Driving Performance,Visual Attention, Heart Rate and Subjective Ratings In Response To Two Types of Cognitive Workload — Yan Yang, et al. (142 KB)
- Assessing the Impact of “Brain Training” On Driving Performance, Visual Behavior, and Neuropsychological Measures — Dobres, et al. (82 KB)
- AgeLab White Paper on Driver Wellness (835 KB)
- Severity Measurements for Rollover Crashes (159 KB)
- Rollover Crash Research Proposal (118 KB)
- Rollover Crash Summary Report (204 KB)
- Sources of Injury Harm in Rollover Crashes Report (234 KB)
- NHTSA Roof Crush Tests and Other Tests for Validating Computer Models Report (231 KB)
- Recent Findings reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (4 MB)