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winter 2018
Rebecca Meyer Brewster header

Atlanta power player — Rebecca Meyer Brewster ’83

Driving research

Rebecca Meyer Brewster ’83 lives and works within 10 miles of the convergence of I-85 and I-285 in Atlanta, otherwise known as Spaghetti Junction, for the third consecutive year the worst traffic bottleneck in the country. As the president and COO of the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), Brewster knows this as well as anyone.

ATRI has the largest bank of truck GPS data in the world, and it’s used by public and private stakeholders to inform policy and investment decisions. Ultimately, the work of ATRI is designed to make the trucking industry safer and more productive.

“Every single thing in your life comes on a truck,” says Brewster.

As an English major at Wofford, Brewster dreamed of becoming the editor of The New York Times. The recession, however, led her in a different direction. She worked as a debt counselor for the Chapter 13 bankruptcy court, then found a job as a fleet analyst for Moen Inc. Her next opportunity came with the Cary (N.C.) Chamber of Commerce as public and governmental affairs director. A few years later Brewster was in Atlanta and read an advertisement for a public policy analyst with ATRI.

Now she spends about a third of the year on the road speaking, meeting, consulting and sharing ATRI research. Her passion for highway safety has led her to become a national expert in traffic incident management.

“I’m a bear when it comes to editing our reports,” she says. “We deal with complex research, and we have to communicate so everyone from CEOs to fleet directors to drivers to members of Congress can understand.”

That’s where her Wofford education resurfaces.

“I think a campus like Wofford really builds your confidence, sets high expectations and gives you opportunities to shine,” she says. “The attention to detail I developed also has been critical to the research we do.”

The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Rolling Stone and most recently Southern Living all have published stories on ATRI research, and with more studies in the pipeline — on autonomous technology, traffic, driver wellness, safety, the lack of truck parking and the driver shortage, for example — Brewster expects more. And while she’s not editing The Times, the paper recently cited ATRI research in a lengthy piece about Breezewood, Pa., and the “intersection of politics and transportation policy.”

By Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington '89