Cannabis use by U.S. adults has increased by 50% over the last decade, and over the same period, cannabis use by drivers has increased by an estimated 8 -12%. Cannabis impairs psychomotor functions that can impair driving ability, which in turn may increase crash risk. As a result, drug-impaired driving is a growing traffic concern. While traditional approaches have focused on enforcement and education, another approach is to build a positive traffic safety culture, which can be described as shared values and beliefs that influence safe driving decisions.
Through this project, the Center for Health and Safety Culture will conduct research to develop a better understanding of belief systems that predict intention to drive after using cannabis. The research will include surveys of cannabis users and non-cannabis users in the state of Washington. The findings will guide the development of culture-based interventions and strategies to sustainably reduce impaired driving.
On Thursday, May 9, 2019 at 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm (Mountain Time), the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) will host a free webinar on the Traffic Safety Culture Pooled Fund research program.
Growing “traffic safety culture” has been identified as a core strategy by the USDOT Safety Council, FHWA’s Joint Safety Strategic Plan, the National Towards Zero Deaths (TZD) Safety Initiative, and the Road to Zero Coalition. Growing a positive traffic safety culture can support traffic safety goals by reducing risky behaviors and increasing protective behaviors; it can also increase public acceptance of other effective traffic safety programs.
In 2014, MDT initiated a five-year transportation pooled fund program on traffic safety culture, partnering with the CHSC as the principal research entity. Through this program, state DOTs and other stakeholder organizations have conducted cooperative research on the role of traffic safety culture in achieving the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) vision. To build on initial research success, the members will continue another five-year cycle beginning October 1, 2019. This webinar will introduce the pooled fund program to state DOTs and other traffic safety stakeholders interested in more information or wishing to participate in the new funding cycle. Learn more about the Pooled Fund Program and register for the Traffic Safety Culture webinar.
A Strategic Approach to Transforming Traffic Safety Culture to Reduce Deaths and Injuries
The Transportation Research Board’s (TRB’s) National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) has released the results of a national study on traffic safety culture, led by P.I. Nic Ward of the Center for Health and Safety Culture and Cambridge Systematics. “A Strategic Approach to Transforming Traffic Safety Culture to Reduce Deaths and Injuries” provides guidance to state transportation agencies on how to transform the traffic safety culture of road users and stakeholders, with the long-term goal of sustaining improvements in traffic safety for all road users. Background information is available on the project webpage. The report is available at http://nap.edu/25286
Citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. A Strategic Approach to Transforming Traffic Safety Culture to Reduce Deaths and Injuries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25286.
The Role of Social Capital in Traffic Safety Citizenship
Kari Finley Ph.D., Jay Otto M.S., and Nic Ward Ph.D. with the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) at Montana State University have published an article in the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies. The article titled “The Role of Social Capital in Traffic Safety Citizenship” focuses on two traffic safety citizenship behaviors: asking a passenger to wear a seat belt and asking a driver to stop texting on a cell phone while driving and explores the role of social capital to facilitate engagement in these behaviors with strangers. Results indicate that social capital may influence engagement in traffic safety citizenship behaviors. This project was conducted in cooperation with the US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration and the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), as part of a Traffic Safety Culture Pooled Fund. The article is available through Open Access and can be found at The Role of Social Capital in Traffic Safety Citizenship or at https://cgscholar.com/bookstore/works/the-role-of-social-capital-in-traffic-safety-citizenship.
Citation- Finley, K., Otto, J. & Ward, N.J. (2018). The Role of Social Capital in Traffic Safety Citizenship. The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies 13:2, 29-41. doi:10.18848/2327-0071/CGP/v13i02/29-41.
Transportation, law enforcement, and public health organizations are showing growing interest in incorporating the principles of traffic safety culture into their safety programs. As a result, there is new demand for training materials on these topics for engineers, planners, emergency responders, public health professionals, and other practitioners.
Through this project, the Center for Health and Safety Culture will create three safety culture trainings for safety staff. The training modules will cover the basics of safety culture, organizational safety culture and road user safety culture. CHSC will develop supporting materials, such as a facilitator guide, videos, interactive handouts, and assessment tools. These modules will be made available to the Local Technical Assistance Programs (LTAPs) in each state, expanding access to culture-based training throughout the country.
Many state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) have adopted the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) vision as part of their work towards the elimination of fatal and serious injury crashes. These efforts are facilitated when a DOT has a strong, internal safety culture of its own.
The Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) has initiated a research program to grow a strong safety culture among a cohort of DOTs by providing tools and guidance to assess and transform organizational safety culture to support safety programs and achieve the TZD vision. These resources will include:
A standard measurement tool to assess the safety culture of each participating DOT;
A set of relevant strategies and a process for transforming identified aspects of the safety culture of the DOT;
A range of support services to help guide and support implementation; and
An evaluation of the effectiveness of the implemented transformation process.
CHSC will work with each DOT to develop and implement individualized tools. This project will launch the effort with the North Dakota Department of Transportation, the first DOT to join the cohort study. CHSC will provide research services to NDDOT and administer the NDDOT Safety Culture Training which encourages new resources and novel strategies to work towards the elimination of fatal and serious injury crashes.
Graduate students who are interested in the emerging field of traffic safety culture are finding intriguing research opportunities at the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC). Recently, Jubaer Ahmed joined CHSC as a Graduate Student Research Assistant, where he is helping with a project to understand driver beliefs regarding impaired driving for the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission. With his advisor (and CHSC Director) Nic Ward, Jubaer is also developing a dissertation topic on the relationship between emotional intelligence and traffic safety culture.
Currently working toward a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering, Jubaer holds a Master’s Degree in Logistics, Trade, and Transportation from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. He previously worked for Chevron in Bangladesh as a Health and Safety Specialist, which inspired his interest in safety research that will protect people from serious injuries and fatalities.
Jubaer has a packed schedule with his research at CHSC, his position as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, and his Ph.D. studies. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and exploring the national parks with his wife and three children. After seeing snow for the first time last winter, he hopes to add skiing to his future activities!