Gillings School Directory

Robert Foss, PhD

Robert Foss, PhD

Adjunct Professor
Department of Maternal and Child Health
Adjunct Professor
Department of Health Behavior
Center for the Study of Young Drivers
  • 730 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
  • CB #3430
  • Chapel Hill, NC 27599
  • USA

Rob Foss' research at UNC has focused primarily on factors contributing to the high crash rates of teenage drivers and the role of alcohol in transportation-related injury. His main goal is to develop effective social policies to enhance transportation safety.

A theme running through his research is a focus on direct observation of salient behaviors in situ, rather than relying solely on self-report measures or existing databases. This method has involved portable breath-testing devices to measure alcohol use in scientific samples of nighttime drivers, recreational boaters and college students. More recently, in-vehicle cameras and other instrumentation have been used to improve understanding of young drivers, including parent-teen interactions among beginning drivers.

This work has been published in the JAMA, Injury Prevention, American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Adolescent Health, Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Accident Analysis & Prevention, and Journal of Safety Research, among others. Rob is the founding chair of the Transportation Research Board Subcommittee on Young Drivers. He is a member of the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Safety Research and Traffic Injury Prevention.

Research Activities

Adolescent health
Alcohol and drug use
Health behavior change
Injury prevention and control

Research Interests

  • Alcohol and Drug Use
  • Injury, Violence and Safety
  • Public Health Studies (Design, Conduct and Analysis)
  • Reproductive, Child and Adolescent Health

Practice Activities

Injury prevention and control

Key Publications

Adolescent drivers: Fine-tuning our understanding. Foss RD, Williams AF (2015). Journal of Adolescent Health, 57(1), S1-S5.

Staff/Administrative Duties

In the Department of Health Behavior:
     Advise students on special projects
     Collaborate on research with faculty
     Guest lecture in health behavior courses
     Serve as dissertation committee member
     Supervise research projects for students


PhD, Social Psychology with minor in Quantitative Research Methods, University of Nevada at Reno, 1975

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