Tribal Road Safety

Image of a road in Western U.S.

Motor vehicle traffic crashes are a leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native people aged 1-44.1 CDC’s Injury Center works with tribal communities to implement motor vehicle injury prevention programs, reduce injuries, and save lives.

Learn more about American Indians’ and Alaska Natives’ risks on the road and how crash-related injuries and deaths among members of tribal nations can be prevented.

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

  • Motor vehicle traffic crashes are a leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native people aged 1-44.1
  • Motor vehicle traffic death rates among American Indian and Alaska Native children aged 0–12 years were 2 to 6 times higher than those of other races and ethnicities.1
  • Rates of motor vehicle traffic deaths among American Indian and Alaska Native adults aged 20 years or older are more than twice that of non-Hispanic whites.1
  • American Indians’ and Alaska Natives’ car seat, booster seat, and seat belt use rates are much lower than that of other racial and ethnic groups.2
  • Seat belt use among American Indians and Alaska Natives (77%)2 is lower than that of the U.S. overall (91%).3
  • 2 in 3 passengers who died in crashes on reservations were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.4
  • American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest alcohol-impaired driving death rates among all racial and ethnic groups. Alcohol-impaired driving death rates among American Indians and Alaska Natives are 2 to 17 times higher than other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.5
References
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS)(online) {cited 2020 November 5}.
  2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Bureau of Indian Affairs Highway Safety Plan FY19. Available at https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/bia_fy19_hspar_0.pdf pdf icon[PDF – 1.39 MB]external icon. Accessed March 23, 2020.
  3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts: Seat Belt Use in 2019—Overall Results. US Department of Transportation, Washington, DC; 2019. Publication no. DOT-HS-812-875. Available at https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812875external icon. Accessed October 9, 2020.
  4. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2020. Native American Traffic Safety Facts FARS 2013-2017. Available at https://cdan.nhtsa.gov/NA_report/NA_Report.htmexternal icon. Accessed March 20, 2020.
  5. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) [online]. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, US Department of Transportation. Available at https://cdan.dot.gov/queryexternal icon. Accessed March 23, 2020.
Roadway to Safer Tribal Communities Toolkit

The Tribal Toolkit is available to assist tribes in the promotion of recommended strategies that consider the unique culture of American Indians and Alaska Natives. The toolkit includes fact sheets and posters to increase seat belt use, increase child safety seat use, and to reduce alcohol-impaired driving.

Best Practices Guide

Over the last several years, many American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and tribal organizations put motor vehicle injury prevention strategies into action. 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 to share lessons learned from this work.