The GHSA data analysis confirmed that:
- Compared with all other racial groups, American Indian/Alaskan Native persons had a substantially higher per-capita rate of total traffic fatalities. White, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, Hispanic and Asian persons had lower than average rates.
- American Indian/Alaskan Native persons had the highest per-capita rate of total traffic deaths, speeding-related fatalities, and pedestrian and bicyclist deaths.
- Black persons had the second highest rate of total traffic deaths, pedestrian traffic deaths and bicyclist traffic deaths.
- Traffic fatality rates among white persons exceed those of BIPOC in motorcycle driver and passenger deaths.
“Our nation’s historic inequalities have contributed to an unacceptable imbalance in traffic safety,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “GHSA is focused on promoting racial justice and finding solutions that advance just results in the country’s behavioral highway safety programs. This problem didn’t happen overnight, and it won’t be fixed overnight – but we have to begin taking meaningful steps forward every day to make our roads safe for all people and communities.”
SHSOs are responsible for addressing speeding, impaired driving and other behavioral safety issues that contribute to traffic crashes, and work with their engineering counterparts to address the role of infrastructure in crashes. The report identifies actions states and communities can undertake when considering traffic enforcement, safety education and community outreach to better serve minority communities and reduce crashes, injuries and deaths for those who have been most affected by race-related disparities in transportation, including:
- Prioritize planning and investment in infrastructure safety countermeasures in underserved/lower socioeconomic communities and neighborhoods that have suffered from years of bias and disinvestment.
- Treat traffic crash involvement as a health disparity issue. Consider how public health approaches to other issues, including mental health and poverty, can inform traffic crash prevention countermeasures.
- Ensure diverse representation in state/city government transportation leadership positions and on traffic safety groups tasked with developing and implementing state and municipal plans.
- Develop new, research-based interventions that prevent traffic crashes before they occur and/or before enforcement activities are required.
- Tailor and develop with BIPOC input safety education campaigns and outreach efforts that address the needs and culture of diverse communities.
- Extensively engage with local BIPOC leadership to determine if and how an equitable traffic enforcement program can be implemented in their community.
- Assess how current traffic enforcement approaches can exacerbate racial/socioeconomic issues and work with stakeholders to identify and implement solutions.
This initiative is part of a broader GHSA focus on equity and builds on the association’s September 2020 news release that outlined
steps GHSA, the SHSOs, and their partners can take to promote equitable traffic enforcement and more broadly address highway safety needs. GHSA is also conducting a separate assessment of state approaches to racial equity to identify and promote best practices and solutions.
At its 2021 Annual Meeting, GHSA will bring together
national and state leaders early this fall in Denver to discuss steps the highway safety community can take to achieve greater equity in traffic enforcement and engagement at the first in-person national traffic safety conference since the start of the pandemic. GHSA will also hold a webinar
in July on how to build trust and foster positive engagement between law enforcement and BIPOC communities.
Richard Retting, former Director of Safety & Research at Sam Schwartz Consulting, conducted the literature review and data analysis for this report. Review and input were provided by Sam Schwartz’s Moriah Richardson, Transportation Engineer; Hugh Smith, Senior Associate & Director of Community Outreach; and Shameka Turner, Outreach Liaison. Richardson, Smith, and Turner serve on Sam Schwartz’s Value Inclusion, Belonging, and Equity (VIBE) Council, which is tasked with integrating the principles of inclusion, belonging and equity across all dimensions of the firm’s work.
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