Transport Infrastructure and Road Safety Research Group

We research ways to improve infrastructure across a diverse range of industries that rely on transport to power their operations. This includes both surface and underground infrastructure, design and material choice, the use of modelling and simulation tools and, importantly, incorporating transit safety and behaviour.

Our focus

Our researchers are powering the future of transport infrastructure with industry-shaping projects across the following focus areas.

  • recycled materials for soil stabilisation
  • rock mechanics
  • traffic simulation
  • modelling fatigue damage in cemented pavements
  • ground subsidence and groundwater simulation conditioning
  • slope stability and rock slope collapse
  • user behavioural study
  • road safety
  • rock fracture and rock burst in mine excavation
  • mining geo-mechanics.

Research areas

Geomechanics for surface and underground infrastructure

Through significant industry experience in both the civil and mining industries, our research and laboratory staff are focused on providing practical solutions to existing and future infrastructure problems. This includes laboratory and field projects related to tunnelling, slope stability, blasting, pre-conditioning and demonstrating novel mining methods.

Modelling and simulation of transport infrastructure systems

Designing, operating and managing transport infrastructure requires various modelling and simulation tools. Our group has expertise in a range of numerical modelling techniques and simulation methodologies, including statistical and econometric modelling, discrete element modelling, optimisation methods and traffic simulation of all levels (microscopic, mesoscopic, macroscopic and hybrid).

With strong partnerships with industry and government bodies, our group applies modelling and simulation techniques in various design and management aspects of transportation infrastructure systems, such as:

  • road and pavement engineering
  • traffic engineering
  • transportation planning
  • demand modelling
  • congestion management
  • soil engineering
  • ground water and drainage management.

Multi-scale geomechanical modelling

Deakin has a strong numerical modelling team with significant experience in geomechanical simulation in all three, particle-based, finite element and discrete element codes. These codes are applied to solve complex non-linear geomechanical problems at multi-scales that range from particle (millimetres) to roads and tunnels (metres), slopes (hundreds of metres) and large-scale mines (kilometres). At each of these scales our researchers are able to couple geomechanical responses with dynamics (blasting) and hydrodynamics (water). This experience within the one research group is unique and provides confidence in research outcomes that are fit-for-purpose.

Road safety

We have a strong research group specialising in road safety analysis and evaluation. We undertake cutting-edge research on the current and future challenges of transport systems, enabling efficient integration of technologies and concepts related to micro-mobility, shared road usage, safe system approach to road safety, and autonomous and connected vehicles.

Our research focuses on diverse areas of road safety, including:

  • advanced statistical modelling of road crash and other safety data
  • evaluation of road safety treatments, policies and programs
  • behavioural analysis of road users
  • autonomous and connected vehicles
  • roadwork traffic management and safety (work zone)
  • surrogate safety analysis
  • traffic conflict techniques
  • vulnerable road users (VRUs) including cyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.

With a strong focus on ‘translation of research to practice’, we provide active input in shaping the road safety policies and practices in Australia through partnerships with key transport agencies and industry bodies in the road safety area.

Road and rail infrastructure design and materials

The Australian transport industry is developing smarter and more sustainable infrastructure systems to address contemporary challenges such as increasing passengers and freight mobility, shortage of resources and risks from wastes/pollutions released from construction and transport activities. This Deakin transport infrastructure research group specialises in managing these challenges using cost-effective design processes, recycled materials, and smart transportation technologies.

We have expertise in advanced data analysis and computational techniques for monitoring and better predicting the behaviour of pavement systems, and road and railway infrastructure. We work with innovative pavement materials and mixes, taking advantage of the by-products from other industries to improve pavement sustainability. In collaboration with universities, research organisations and the industry, we aim to make roadway and railway infrastructure systems smarter, safer, more cost-effective and sustainable.

Group members


Name Research interests
Dr Susanga Costa Geomechanics, unsaturated soil, numerical modelling of soil, fracture mechanics
Associate Professor Ashim Debnath Road safety, roadwork traffic management, cycling, vulnerable road users, smart transportation, statistical and econometric methods
Dr Kazem Ghabraie Optimisation and design, numerical modelling, failure and damage mechanics, material characterisation
Dr Saba Gharehdash Computational geomechanics, smoothed particle hydrodynamics, computational fluid dynamics modelling, explosion, tunnelling, rock mechanics
Dr Bidur Kafle Structural dynamics, earthquake engineering, timber structures, structural health monitoring, composite structures, pavement engineering
Dr Nhu Nguyen Geomechanics, discrete element modelling, pavement engineering, computational plasticity
Professor Bre-Anne Sainsbury Mining geomechanics, backfill, tunnelling, slope stability, 3D complex non-linear modelling
Dr Wonmongo SoroRoad safety, heavy vehicle, transportation economics, statistical and econometric methods
Professor Wendy TimmsPorous earth engineering, ground water, void water management, sustainability of water and energy systems

PhD students

Name Thesis topic
Sadia Afroza Examination of commonly omitted factors in pedestrian safety analysis
Abolfazl Baghbani Application of machine learning to predict desiccation cracking in soil
Pratik Bhandari Infrastructure systems
Amrit Ghimire Modelling shared road space: Quantitative examination of the operational and safety characteristics of shared road space types in the UK and Australia
James Lett Quantitative characterisation of a Caveability index in high-strength rock masses
Diane Mather Investigation into the effects of rock mass modulus in the design of excavations
Philip John PountneyThe value of data and digitisation for government agencies
Abtin Farshi Homayoun Rooz Investigating the unloading deformation characteristics of rock masses.
Milad Barzegar TouchahiAdvanced monitoring and analysis systems for subsurface monitoring of rock strata and groundwater systems
Sajani Dias Wickramaratne SiriwardeneExamination of associations between roadwork design and safety outcomes
Sarah BrillExternal interfaces for automated vehicles in shared spaces
Tharindu Kasun Ranawake Ranawakachchi Kankanamge Integrated control on freeway and CAV fleet to improve safety
Cristhiana PerdigaoUsing microbial calcite precipitation to seal shrinkage cracks in clay


Funded projects

    • Improving cycling safety at intersections using real-time personalised safety alerts (2021–2023), Office of Road Safety (Cat 1 grant), $339,733
    • Light Insight Trial (LiT) – smart bicycle lights (2021–2022), iMOVE CRC, Transport Accident Commission, and See.Sense, $282,200
    • Improving road worker safety on the M1 (2022–2023), iMOVE CRC and Transport and New South Wales, $100,000
    • Guidelines for Incident response vehicles and truck mounted attenuators (2021–2022), iMOVE CRC and Austroads, $132,820
    • Probe data trial (2022–2023), Department of Transport (Victoria), $44,344
    • Agriculture Plant Safer Equipment Research (2021–2022), SafeWork Victoria
    • Investigation of properties of gravel from various locations for use in road pavement (2022), Horsham Rural City Council, $8,571
    • Side Road Activated Speeds (SRAS) – Development of framework, survey design and analysis for short-term evaluation (2021–2022), Department of Transport (Victoria), $37,520
    • Consideration of cracking damage to concrete tunnel lining system (2020–2021), Transurban, $74,361
    • Numerical simulation research – caving geomechanics (2020), Palabora Mining Company, $32,740
    • Advanced monitoring and analysis systems for subsurface monitoring of rock strata and groundwater system (2020–2023), Fluid Potential, $20,000
    • High-speed rural intersections evaluation project (2020–2022), Department of Transport (Victoria)
    • Strategic transport modelling development (2019), Department of Transport (Victoria), $5500
    • Large scale unconfined compression strength analysis of cemented rockfill (2018) Evolution Mining, $7743
    • Infrastructure futures phase 1 (2018), $75,000
    • Anisotropic rock mass modelling (2018–2020), Geotechnica, $52,740
    • Intelligent water network flagship project (2017), AECOM, $26,000
    • Waste Tyre Reinforcement of Construction Materials within Mining Operations (2021–2023), ARC TREMS HUB, $200,000

Highlighted projects

Light Insight Trial (LiT) – smart bicycle lights (2021–2022), iMOVE CRC, Transport Accident Commission and See.Sense

Deakin University is collaborating with the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), See.Sense and the iMOVE CRC to run an Australia-first trial using See.Sense’s smart bike light technology. This technology captures ride data that will generate greater understanding about how cyclists ride and what impacts their safety.

Improving cycling safety at intersections using real-time personalised safety alerts (20212023), Office of Road Safety

This multidisciplinary project aims to proactively improve the safety of cyclists at intersections using an innovative Personalised Safety Alert System as a simple-to-use smartphone app for cyclists using advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms.

Side Road Activated Speeds (SRAS) – Development of framework, survey design and analysis for short-term evaluation (2021–2022), Victoria Department of Transportation

This Victoria Department of Transportation (DOT) funded project aims to evaluate the safety benefits of an innovative road safety treatment, namely the Side Road Activated Speed (SRAS) signs, at rural road intersections in Victoria. Using the SRAS system, vehicles on side roads of rural intersections are detected and accordingly the posted speed limits on the major roads of the intersections are temporarily dropped to manage collision risks and reduce crash severity at intersections, following the principles of the Safe System Approach to Road Safety. This project develops an innovative safety evaluation framework and analysis methodology for field data collection and safety analysis using advanced statistical analysis methods.

Anisotropic rock mass modelling (2018–2019)

Anisotropic rock masses, the behaviour of which is dominated by closely spaced planes of weakness, present particular difficulties in rock engineering analyses. The orientation of discontinuities relative to an excavation face has a significant influence on the behavioural response. At the present time, discontinuum modelling techniques provide the most rigorous analyses of the deformation and failure processes of anisotropic rock masses. However, due to their computational in-efficiency in large-scale problems (tunnel or cavern scale) they are limited. An efficient numerical framework has been developed to provide accurate results for a number of high-profile infrastructure projects that include the Melbourne Metro Tunnel and the Snowy 2.0 Cavern Complex.

ARC TREMS HUB (2021–2023)

Waste tyres pose a significant environmental problem. One of the challenges in using waste tyres is the cost of transport and processing into a crumbed or shredded form for re-integration into a recycled product. The current practice in underground cut and fill mines is to use cemented waste rock fill (CRF) to fill excavations to limit ground movement and increase resource recovery. The inclusion of tyre rubber (up to about 40%) into the CRF mix (T-CRF) is expected to increase flexural and shear strength and energy absorption capacity of the CRF product. T-CRF will provide additional benefits to mining operations through cost savings, increased mining efficiency and contribute to solving an important environmental problem.

Contact us

For more info about our research, contact research coordinator Associate Professor Ashim Debnath.

Interested in researching with us? Contact a researcher listed above to discuss a potential topic of interest.

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