Resources for Tribal Road Safety

Car driivng down highway in tribal area
Motor vehicle injury prevention program improves road safety in tribal communities.

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) aged 1–44. On average, two AI/ANs are killed every day in motor vehicle crashes.

Disparities

American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) are injured or killed in motor vehicle crashes at much higher rates than other Americans.

  • Adult motor vehicle-related death rates for AI/ANs are 1.5 times more than those of whites and blacks.
  • Among infants less than 1 year of age, AI/ANs have 8 times the rate of motor-vehicle traffic deaths than that of non-Hispanic white infants. 
  • AI/ANs have a high prevalence, or occurrence, of alcohol-impaired driving and the highest alcohol-related motor vehicle death rate across racial/ethnic populations.
  • More than half (56%) of AI/AN passenger vehicle occupants who died in motor vehicle crashes were not buckled up at the time of the crash.

CDC’s Tribal Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention Program (TMVIPP) significantly improved road safety in 12 tribal communities through culturally appropriate, effective interventions. For example, The Yurok Tribe in California implemented the California Rural Indian Health Board’s Buckle Up Yurok Program, which included community education clinics, a media campaign, car seat checks, and car seat distribution events. As a result of the program, car seat use in the community increased 34 percent from 2011–2014.

Relevant and Effective Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention

There are many effective strategies and promising interventions to address the burden of motor vehicle crash injury and death in AI/AN communities, including those that involve education, advances in engineering, and environmental changes. The primary focus of CDC’s Tribal Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention Program has been to:

  • increase seat belt use,
  • increase child safety seat use, and to
  • decrease alcohol-impaired driving.

Best Practices Guide 2016

Over the last several years, many AI/AN tribes and tribal organizations put motor vehicle injury prevention strategies into action. To share lessons learned from this work, CDC collaborated with the Indian Health Service (IHS), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and the University of North Carolina (UNC) to develop a best practices guide.

The Tribal Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention (TMVIP) Best Practices Guide begins with a summary of the burden of motor vehicle crash injury and death in the AI/AN community. It provides recommended strategies to increase seat belt use, increase child safety seat use, and to reduce alcohol-impaired driving.  The guide also outlines five important components for TMVIP:

  • Commitment
  • Collaboration
  • Data and Evaluation
  • Tailored Evidence-Based Strategies
  • Technical Support

The guide covers what is needed, lessons learned, case examples, resources, and action calls for TMVIP programs within each component.

Roadway to Safer Tribal Communities Toolkit

CDC in partnership with the Indian Health Service (IHS) developed the Tribal Toolkit to assist tribes in the promotion of recommended strategies that consider the unique culture of AI/ANs. The toolkit includes fact sheets, brochures, and posters to increase seat belt use, increase child safety seat use, and to reduce alcohol-impaired driving.

The video “A Killer in Indian Country” is part of the toolkit and features personal stories from survivors of car crashes in tribal communities and highlights important steps for road safety.

Page last reviewed: November 17, 2016