Collaborating with American Indian Communities to Re-Interpret and Strategize About Transportation Safety Risks in Tribal Lands

Principal Investigator(s):

Kathryn Quick, Associate Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs


Project summary:

This research provides new sources of data and insights to address unusually high rates of MVC fatalities and injuries among American Indians. Prior research has not focused on roadway safety in reservations, which are home to 22 percent of American Indians. The contributions of the study are:

  • Data generation and methodological innovation: Researchers developed qualitative research methods that create new data sources and facilitate in-depth analysis and problem-solving in particular reservations. They emphasize the perspectives of people with the most direct, informed knowledge of reservation conditions.

  • Priority reservation roadway safety concerns: The data indicate three key areas: pedestrian safety, road maintenance and repair, and cooperation among tribal, state, and local governments, based upon case studies done in cooperation with the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and Minnesota Advocacy Council on Tribal Transportation.

  • National priorities: Analysis of the 2016 Tribal Transportation Safety Data Survey or tribes and states indicate these priorities: improving road infrastructure, driver education and enforcement, and seatbelt and childseat use and education. This confirms that prior federal funding, technical assistance, and policies remain critically important.

  • Inter-agency coordination needs: Case study and survey data strongly indicate the vital importance of high-quality coordination between tribes and federal, state, and local governments in reservations. This is the first study to document the positive -- or negative -- consequences for roadway safety and resource efficiency of cooperative, complementary, or divisive relationships among these entities.

Related research

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