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An Assessment of Traffic Safety Culture: Exploring Traffic Safety Citizenship

Project #: 4W5482
Start Date: 06/05/2015
End Date: 10/31/2016

The final report summarizes findings from a research survey conducted to understand values, beliefs, and attitudes regarding engagement in behaviors that impact the traffic safety of others. About half of the people who responded to the survey indicated they had been in a situation in the past 12 months when someone was not wearing a seat belt or was reading or texting while driving. Of those who indicated they were in a situation to intervene, more than half did. They were more likely to intervene with others who were socially closer to them (e.g., family and friends) than with those more socially distant (e.g., acquaintances or strangers). Most people had favorable attitudes and beliefs about intervening. Analysis revealed that the perception of whether most people do intervene (e.g., the perceived descriptive norm) was strongly correlated with intervening behavior. Similarly, most people who responded to the survey had favorable attitudes about strategies involving policy or rules to increase seat belt use or decrease reading or typing on a cell phone while driving. The report also includes recommendations for growing intervening behaviors.


Engagement in traffic safety by road users is an important component of a comprehensive Toward Zero Death (TZD) strategy. Also called “safety citizenship,” focusing on growing prosocial, traffic safety related behaviors by everyone is a strategic shift from focusing on directly impacting the behavior of an often small group engaging in risky behaviors. The strategy is to foster more active engagement by the larger majority of safe road users to influence the behaviors of the smaller risk group.

This project has several objectives related to cultural factors that may support traffic safety engagement :

1. Select and clearly define positive traffic safety behaviors  that would reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries. These behaviors will include (1) intervening in the safety of others and (2) enabling effective traffic safety strategies.

2. Measure the prevalence of the identified traffic safety behaviors among US adults.

3. Identify aspects of traffic safety culture (values, attitudes and beliefs) and safety citizenship that are predictive of these behaviors.

4. Propose methods of increasing traffic safety citizenship based the identified cultural factors.



The objective of this project is to increase understanding of specific traffic safety behaviors that can reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries.

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