Motor Vehicle Safety

Image of young adults riding in a car

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children and young adults in the United States. CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (Injury Center) focuses on preventing deaths and injuries from motor vehicle crashes by monitoring the problem to inform prevention, increasing occupant restraint use, keeping teens safe on the road, reducing impaired driving, and improving road safety.

CDC’s Injury Center provides critical funding and technical assistance to 23 state health departments through its Core State Violence and Injury Prevention Program (Core SVIPP). The program helps strengthen state capacity to collect and use data to better understand the local injury environment and challenges, plan injury prevention efforts, and carry out and evaluate life-saving interventions for residents.

Putting Strategies to Work to Prevent Motor Vehicle Crash Injuries

One of the best ways to keep people safe on the roads is to empower states to identify, implement, and evaluate evidence-based motor vehicle injury prevention strategies.

States are working to prevent motor vehicle crash injuries through proven strategies that are recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Forceexternal icon and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrationexternal icon. Scientific studies support the effectiveness of these strategies in preventing or reducing crash-related injuries and deaths:

  • Child Passenger Safety:
    • Mandated use of car seats and booster seats for motor vehicle passengers through at least 8 years of age
    • Car and booster seat distribution plus education programs
    • Community-wide information and short-term, high-visibility enforcement campaigns
  • Seat Belt Use:
    • Primary enforcement seat belt laws that cover occupants in all seating positions
  • Alcohol-impaired Driving:
    • Use of ignition interlock devices for everyone convicted of alcohol-impaired driving
    • Publicized sobriety checkpoint programs
    • Alcohol-impaired driving mass media campaigns
    • Minimum legal drinking age laws
  • Teen Driver Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) Systems:
    • Comprehensive GDL systems that grant driving privileges in stages to help teenage drivers gain experience under low-risk conditions
States in Action

Arizona Increases Access to Child Passenger Safety Technicians in Tribal Communities

American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children 0 to 12 years old have the highest traffic death rate of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States. The Arizona Core SVIPP provides support for passenger safety outreach to American Indians. The Arizona SVIPP program coordinator provided a car seat technician training at the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in October 2017 and trained 20 new car seat technicians and two lead instructor candidates from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the Gila River Indian Community. Since the training, the instructors have held seven car seat compliance checkpoint trainings and 20 curbside checkpoints and distributed 247 car seats.

Kentucky Targets Motor Vehicle Crash Hot Spots for Education and Enforcement

Kentucky’s seatbelt usage is lower than the national average. In 2016, over half of the people in Kentucky who died in a motor vehicle crash were not wearing their seatbelts. The Kentucky Violence and Injury Prevention Program (KVIPP) collaborated with the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) to create a motor vehicle risk index hot spot map. Using this map, they identified 10 high-risk counties to target with seat belt education and enforcement activities. Together with the Kentucky Safety and Prevention Alignment Network, KOHS and KVIPP implemented the Local Heroes campaign in the targeted counties, all of which were rural. The Local Heroes campaign features well-known, local law enforcement to encourage seatbelt use and increase the connection between officers and their communities. The partnership between KOHS and KVIPP increased the number of pickup truck drivers wearing seat belts in high-risk counties counties by a small percent and saw a slight increase in overall seatbelt use.

Arizona and Kentucky are using their Core SVIPP funding for motor vehicle injury interventions to keep people safe on the roads.