Fatal motor vehicle traffic accidents among Native Americans

Am J Prev Med. 1991 Mar-Apr;7(2):112-6.


An atypical number of motor vehicle-related deaths has been observed among Native American populations. Little is known about why Native groups exhibit increased mortality from this cause. To better understand factors influencing these occurrences, I examined fatal motor vehicle traffic accidents between 1980 and 1986 involving persons of Native American descent in New York State, exclusive of New York City. Data were obtained from a review of death certificates and coroner reports. Fatal motor vehicle collisions among Native Americans generally occurred among men (74%), in rural areas (55%), between 9:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. (62%), and during weekends (78%). A sizable percentage of motor vehicle deaths resulted from collisions with pedestrians (28%). Death frequently occurred before the accident victim reached a hospital (74%). Median age at death for male victims was eight years greater than for female victims. These data suggest the need for immediate efforts focusing on primary prevention to minimize risk-taking behaviors likely to result in motor vehicle accidents. I discuss behavioral and environmental factors influencing these observations.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / mortality*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / ethnology
  • Female
  • Health Education / methods
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Male
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Rural Population
  • Sex Factors