It is well-documented that American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) experience disproportionately higher rates of unintentional injury deaths than other race groups in the US, and the Northwest is no exception. AI/AN deaths occurring as a result of motor vehicle crashes (MVC) is also disproportionately higher than those among non-Hispanic Whites (NHW). MVC disparity exists for young AI/AN children as well. Motor vehicle injuries and deaths are devastating to AI/AN families and communities. AI/AN children are disproportionally affected by motor vehicle fatalities, partly due to riding improperly restrained in vehicles. Northwest AI/AN pedestrians are at increased risk of death compared to NHW (2.4 for NW region). These figures are especially high in Washington state and reasons for this need to be explored.
Fortunately, evidence-based strategies, such as those included in the CDC Tribal Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention Best Practices Guide and, on the Native Children Always Ride Safe (Native CARS) Atlas (found at nativecars.org) can be successfully implemented by tribes to markedly reduce motor vehicle-related injury and mortalities. When such measures were employed in the NW tribes by the NWTEC’s Native CARS study, we observed increased age and size-appropriate child passenger restraint use in six Northwest tribes between 2009-2013.
To assist tribes in their efforts to reduce motor vehicle injuries and deaths while recognizing their community needs and intentions, we propose a five-year plan to address child passenger and pedestrian safety in the NW Tribal communities. The Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) proposes a comprehensive and virtually accessible motor vehicle Injury Prevention Program (IPP) that will expand the capacity of Northwest tribes to collect data, identify priorities for planning, and obtain online technical assistance with implementation and evaluation of their evidence-based motor vehicle injury prevention strategies. Strategies will include addressing child passenger restraint use by providing education, training tribal child passenger safety technicians (CPST), and helping Tribes collect observational child passenger restraint data. A second strategy will address pedestrian motor vehicle injury prevention by developing and implementing community pedestrian evaluations.
A full-time Injury Prevention Program (IPP) coordinator will implement the proposed workplan activities, leverage the expertise of NPAIHB and external partners, and utilize an online learning platform to create positive changes to benefit NW tribes for generations to come.