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.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 Indian and Alaska Native persons’ risks on the road and how crash-related injuries and deaths among members of tribal nations can be prevented.

American Indian and Alaska Native persons are injured or killed in motor vehicle crashes at much higher rates than other racial and ethnic groups.

  • Motor vehicle traffic crashes are a leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native people.1
  • Motor vehicle traffic death rates among American Indian and Alaska Native children and youth age 0–19 years were about 2 to 5 times higher than those of other racial and ethnic groups.1
  • Rates of motor vehicle traffic deaths among American Indian and Alaska Native adults age 20 years or older are more than twice that of non-Hispanic White persons.1
  • American Indian and Alaska Native persons 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 Indian and Alaska Native persons (76%)2 is lower than that of the United States overall (90%).3
  • 2 out of every 3 passengers who died in crashes on reservations were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.4
  • American Indian and Alaska Native persons have the highest alcohol-impaired driving death rates among all racial and ethnic groups. Alcohol-impaired driving death rates among American Indian and Alaska Native persons are 2 to 17 times higher than other racial and ethnic groups.5
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.

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 2021 October 15}.
  2. Chaffe RHB, Leaf WA, Solomon MG. 2020 Safety Belt Use Estimate for the Indian Nations. Albuquerque, NM: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Highway Safety Program Office. 2020.
  3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts: Seat Belt Use in 2020—Overall Results. US Department of Transportation, Washington, DC; 2021. Publication no. DOT-HS-813-072. Available at https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813072external icon . Accessed October 18, 2021.
  4. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2020. Native American Traffic Safety Facts FARS 2014-2018. Available at https://cdan.nhtsa.gov/NA_report/NA_Report.htmexternal icon. Accessed November 8, 2021.
  5. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST) [online]. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, US Department of Transportation. Available at https://cdan.dot.gov/queryexternal icon. Accessed March 23, 2020.
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.

Cover of the Best Practices Guide 2016