Best Practices to Prevent Motor Vehicle Crashes

September 2002

The Problem

More people have died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States than have died in all this nation's wars. According to Injury Prevention and Public Health, motor vehicle crashes account for 29% of all injury deaths in the U.S. and 47% of all unintentional injury deaths. More than 80% of crash deaths involve drivers or other occupations, and the remaining 20% are bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists.

In Minnesota, motor vehicle-related injuries are the leading cause of injury-related death overall and in nearly every age group. About half the serious traumatic brain injuries and 60 percent of spinal cord injuries are the result of motor vehicle crashes. Those at greatest risk are young (15-24 year old) drivers, elderly drivers, male drivers, unbelted occupants, and unrestrained children. Pedestrian injuries are among the most expensive in terms of hospital charges, and elderly people are particularly vulnerable.

There has been a steady decline in motor vehicle crash fatalities, due to increased seat belt use, declining rates of drinking and driving, safer road and vehicle designs, improvements in emergency medical services, and new acute care technologies. Continued improvements are needed in all these areas.


Prevention Strategies

  • Promote and offer incentives for seat belt use.
  • Teach the correct use of seat belts.
  • Distribute car seats to those who can't afford them.
  • Support legislation for primary enforcement of seat belts.
  • Promote public policy on graduated licensing (increasing privileges as the driver gets older), raising the driving age to 18, and retesting elderly drivers more frequently than others.
  • Support restricted youth access to alcohol.
  • Support legislative action for 0.08 as the blood alcohol level for Driving Under the Influence (current level is 1.0).
  • Offer professional education on medication and alcohol use in the elderly.
  • Provide age-appropriate counseling by primary care providers.
  • Promote public awareness of drowsy drivers.
  • Promote use of alternative modes of transportation
  • Modify the physical environment (road design, signs, speed limits, etc.)
  • Analyze data, identify and support proven prevention efforts.
  • Monitor and enforce speed limits.

Links

(Search these sites for information related to the prevention of Motor Vehicle Crashes)

*There may be links on this site that are external to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The MDH is not responsible for the content of external sites, nor does it endorse or guarantee the services or information described or offered on external sites.

Impaired Driving, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control: The cost and risk factors related to impaired drivers. www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/index.html
Injury and Violence Prevention Links: Access other sites that are related to injury and violence prevention. www.health.state.mn.us/injury/links.cfm
Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety: Find data on crashes in Minnesota and learn how to be a safe driver. www.dps.state.mn.us/ots/
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Includes crash statistics, details on how to purchase a safe car and additional safety materials. www.nhtsa.dot.gov/
Teen Drivers, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control: The cost and risk factors related to teen drivers. www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/Teen_Drivers/index.html


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