Reducing unintentional injuries on the nation's highways: research and program policy to increase seat belt use

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2004 Feb;15(1):4-17. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2004.0004.


Death, disability, and injury from motor vehicle accidents constitute a public health crisis. The goal of this paper is to describe how Meharry Medical College's Center for Community Based Research plans to address this problem. A model of how high-risk groups are influenced to engage in behaviors that increase risk for traffic crashes is articulated. Five strategies for reducing risk for motor vehicle morbidity and mortality are identified: 1) influencing the individual at the point of decision; 2) mobilizing communities and coalitions to support individual and systems changes; 3) modifying environmental factors to modify behaviors; 4) changing laws and public policy; and 5) working towards the elimination of underlying causes. The Center for Community Based Research's promotion of seat belt use, based on each of these five strategies, is described. Addressing the public health crisis resulting from death and injury on the nation's roads and the excess risk faced by minority groups in this country will require the coordinated efforts of many groups. This work must be driven by research, the outcome of which will be a reduction in preventable injury, disability and premature death.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention / methods*
  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Black or African American / education
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Health Behavior / ethnology
  • Health Care Coalitions
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Models, Organizational
  • Organizational Policy*
  • Public Health
  • Risk-Taking
  • Schools, Medical / organization & administration
  • Seat Belts / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tennessee
  • Wounds and Injuries / ethnology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control*