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Cars driving on road through American Indian reservation

Advancing roadway safety in American Indian reservations


Nationally, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of unintentional injury for American Indians aged 1 to 44 and their motor vehicle death rate is higher than for any other ethnic or racial group in the United States. To better understand these high fatality rates, Humphrey School of Public Affairs Associate Professor Kathy Quick and University of Minnesota researcher Guillermo Narváez conducted an in-depth study of roadway safety on American Indian reservations.

Four case studies were carried out in partnership with tribal governments in Minnesota: the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Researchers collected extensive data from the reservations through fieldwork observations, interviews with key stakeholders, focus groups with expert drivers, and in-person surveys of residents. They also collaborated with the Federal Highway Administration to design and analyze results of the 2016 Tribal Transportation Safety Data Survey, a national online survey with responses from 151 representatives of tribal governments and 45 representatives of state governments. Of the five high-priority concerns the researchers identified, one in particular stood out: the safety of pedestrians on tribal lands. Read more about this study on the Roadway Safety Institute website.

Photo: Foot path from elementary school to cross US-2 highway, Leech Lake Reservation, MN. Credit: Guillermo Narváez