Using GIS to Improve Tribal Traffic Safety
Thomas Horan, Researcher, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
Traffic safety is a significant transportation and health concern among tribal travelers. Among Native American populations, motor vehicle-related injuries are the leading cause of death for ages up to 5- 34 years old. Over the last three decades, the number of fatal crashes on Indian reservations increased dramatically, while nationally they have declined. Moreover, several recent reviews have noted that potentially effective approaches have been hampered by a lack of timely data and robust tools to guide appropriate strategies in Tribal lands.
This study investigated the potential of new advances in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to enhance the collection, availability and use of transportation safety related information. This investigation resulted in development of several promising GIS applications for tribal use, identified spatial analytic approaches to understanding tribal safety trends, and explored a framework for considering GIS implementation within the context and culture of Tribal independence and governance. Throughout the study it did become clear that Tribes continue to face numerous hurdles to realizing the full benefits of GIS, including but not limited to resource, staffing, and institutional constraints.
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