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UGPTI Researcher Proposes Improved Approach to Tribal Crash Reporting at International Conference

Posted: Nov 21, 2019

Kim Vachal, researcher with NDSU's Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, presented her research into improving motor vehicle crash reporting by Native American tribes Nov. 6 at the International Conference on Transport and Health in Melbourne.

American Indian and Native Alaskans experience motor vehicle crash death rates that are about 40 percent higher than the U.S. population as a whole. However, these indigenous populations lack the data to understand the causes of fatal accidents and implement effective countermeasures. In case studies with four Native American tribes in North Dakota, Vachal found that the culture and structure of each tribe influences crash reporting. Law enforcement agencies on tribal lands, often federal law enforcement agents, document crashes but are not the primary users. The narrative nature of the reports and limits to accessing them can be barriers.

Based on a variety of approaches used by the tribes, Vachal proposes a consistent systematic approach to crash reporting that fulfills local needs for accountability, sovereignty, and system integrity. The study shows that consistently documenting motor vehicle crashes is possible with commitment from tribes and support from stakeholders.

The research is funded by the Mountain-Plains Consortium, a university transportation center headed by the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute and funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The International Conference on Transport and Health is the only international conference fully dedicated to transport systems and their health impacts. Attendees include policy makers, practitioners and academics from multiple disciplines and professional sectors including planning, engineering, public health, urban planning, spatial and architectural design, environmental planning, and economics.

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