Growing safety culture has been identified as a core strategy by 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 would not only support traffic safety goals by reducing risky behaviors and increasing protective behaviors, it would also increase public acceptance of other effective traffic safety programs. Traffic safety culture can be defined as the values and beliefs shared amongst road users that determine their choice of behavior which affects traffic safety. Traffic safety culture also includes the values and beliefs of stakeholders across the social environment whose actions can affect those behaviors and traffic safety. Critical stakeholders may include state departments of transportation, state offices of public safety, public health officials, law enforcement leaders, elected officials, business leaders, etc. In 2015, the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) initiated a 5-year transportation pooled fund program on traffic safety culture (www.mdt.mt.gov/research/projects/trafficsafety.shtml) partnering with the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) at Montana State University as the principal research entity. This program began as a cooperative effort amongst participating state DOTs and other (traditional and non-traditional) stakeholder organizations sharing a vested interest in the role of traffic safety culture to achieve the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) vision. The total budget was $1,204,000 with support from 14 state departments of transportation (DOTs) including:
Projects conducted in this first funding period examined the role of culture in impaired driving, distracted driving, law enforcement, and intervening to prevent risky driving. Completed projects include the following:
Active projects include the following:
Pending projects to be completed under this current pooled fund program, TPF-5(309), include the following:
The program is producing several tools including primers, an online video, and webinars on key topics relevant to traffic safety culture, including tools to facilitate the implementation of research results. Given the success of the current pooled fund program, the members unanimously recommend the continuation of another five-year cycle. The pooled fund is actively seeking additional partners for the funding cycle to begin October 1, 2019.
Only through the growth of a positive safety culture can significant and sustainable reductions in crash fatalities and serious injuries be achieved. Towards that end, this pooled fund program will:
This program will support integrated and multiyear research to guide the transformation of local, state, and national traffic safety culture. Funding partners determine the priority issues each year, and work plans are developed for the selected issues. Three types of effort are expected in this pooled-fund program: First, the program could propose culture-based research directed to specific traffic safety problems. For example, there are common behavioral risk factors amongst most state Strategic Highway Safety Plans (SHSP) such as impaired or distracted driving that can be influenced by culture. Second, the program may generate ideas for general “services and tools” to support the understanding and application of traffic safety culture in the safety plans of project partners. For example, online courses on traffic safety culture for workforce development or a repository of relevant literature and case studies of best practice relevant to addressing the cultural factors of a risky behavior could be created. Third, the program can be used to implement a limited number of demonstration projects to evaluate specific strategies to transform traffic safety culture in select communities, which could then be applied elsewhere.
Subjects: Safety and Human Performance