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Center for Injury Research and Policy

Transportation Safety

child getting buckled into car seat by mom

Our Center addresses the continued challenges posed by motor vehicles. 

We focus on novice teen drivers and older adult drivers, whose injury risks on the road are especially high, improvements to road safety through design changes to streets and sidewalks, and strategies that promote safe active modes of travel.  Our transportation safety work is also increasingly directed toward the advent of autonomous vehicles and the unique policy, ethical, and educational challenges they pose.

young boy putting on his bike helmet, smilingMotor vehicle crashes continue to cause injuries and deaths on U.S. roadways at unacceptably high rates. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s projections for traffic fatalities in 2017 show that an estimated 37,150 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. But the Center’s journey to improve transportation safety is ceaseless.

The Center also continues to address the challenges posed by novice teen drivers, whose crash risk is especially high. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16 to 19-year-olds is nearly 3 times the rate for drivers 20 years and older.

Our Work in Action

Center Director Receives Grant to Advance Traffic Safety with Focus on Tribal Communities 

Shannon Frattaroli, PhD, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy and professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, received a 12-month grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to provide technical assistance resources to support implementation of a Safe System approach in U.S. Indigenous communities. The Safe System approach, developed by a group of engineers, scientists, public health professionals, and safety experts, aims to improve road design to enhance mobility, improve communities, and drive road deaths to zero.  

The project, one of six funded as part of the Community Traffic Safety Grant from the Road to Zero Coalition, is in partnership with the Tribal Injury Prevention Resource Center, a leading authority on Indigenous road safety. Together, the two organizations will work with tribal members to build tribal capacity to propose Safe System projects, develop road safety plans specific to the needs of tribal communities, and assist with the process of applying for federal infrastructure funding.  

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native people and rates of motor vehicle traffic deaths are more than twice that of non-Hispanic White counterparts ages 20 years and older. Differences also exist between Indigenous people and the U.S. populations for pedestrian fatalities. The Indigenous pedestrian fatality rate is higher than the rates of all 50 U.S. states. While progress on road safety has been made in the U.S., that progress has failed to reach Indigenous populations. 

During the 12-month project, the team will raise awareness about the Safe System approach through virtual trainings and educational opportunities, understand barriers and facilitators of adopting a Safe System approach, and develop a resource guide to use when developing tribal road safety plans.   

Safe System Report and Event 

The Safe System approach is built on the premise that transportation-related death and injury are unacceptable and avoidable. Reaching a goal of zero deaths requires a reconfiguration of the entire system from road designers to road users. Importantly, a Safe System can be implemented in ways that help address structural and institutional racism by correcting for prior under investments in historically marginalized communities and closing gaps in safety between areas that have been well resourced and those that have been underserved. Under the leadership of Dr. Jeff Michael, the Center, together with the Institute of Transportation Engineers, convened a consortium of experts from a variety of disciplines to participate in a series of five meetings this year that culminated in the Recommendations of the Safe System Consortium report.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research & Policy and the Institute of Transportation Engineers are pleased to share the Recommendations of the Safe System Consortium report through an online event on Tuesday, May 11 at 2 p.m. EDT.

Congressman Anthony Brown (MD-04), a member of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, will share opening remarks. Mark Rosekind, PhD, the former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a Distinguished Policy Scholar in the Department of Health Policy and Management, will moderate a panel discussion with Meghan Mitman, AICP, Chair of the Institute of Transportation Engineers Safety Council; Jamila Porter, DrPH, Director of Resilient Communities with the Big Cities Health Coalition; and Robert Wunderlich, PE, Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Attend to learn more about the recommendations outlined by the group.

Read the Safe System Report


Watch the Event Recording


The Johns Hopkins New Mobility Initiative 

Emerging mobility innovations are reshaping our transportation system.  Fundamental changes such as automated vehicles (AVs) and the Safe System approach to road safety will bring efficient new mobility options, while improved diagnostic tools including new data systems and driver monitoring methods will facilitate the transition.  Together, these new techniques have the potential to transform communities, improving both mobility and safety, saving lives, reducing injuries, and promoting health equity. Public health leadership, research, and policy development will guide the transformation and ensure that critical social goals are achieved.

The Johns Hopkins New Mobility Initiative (Initiative) is the focal point to stimulate and guide this new era of mobility innovation.  The Initiative brings together a broad-based team of public health and transportation safety experts with a track record of successful partnerships and forward-looking ideas that can facilitate implementation of emerging mobility innovations to maximize the benefits of safety, technology, and health equity.

The Initiative will collaborate with public officials and technology and transportation system partners to evaluate deployment strategies for new mobility innovations and translate findings into policy models for dissemination and replication.  Leadership provided by the Initiative will guide transportation innovations, prioritize safety and equity, enhance public health engagement in road safety, and accelerate the realization of societal benefits from new mobility products and services.

Learn more: 


Watch the Webcast of the Launch

The Future of Personal Transportation

The Center and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, convened a first-of-its-kind gathering in December 2017 to focus public attention on the deployment of autonomous vehicle technology in ways that will provide the greatest social benefits.

Event webcast


Youth Driver Safety

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among U.S. adolescents. These rates are highest in the first year of independent driving

Pedestrian crosswalk button next to busy streetResearch at the Center indicates that practice on a diversity of roadways during the learner stage is protective against serious crashes during the first year of independent driving. However, current driver licensing and training requirements do not require adolescents to practice under these conditions. Almost every U.S. states’ Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) systems include the requirement for adolescents to practice driving for a minimum number of hours (60 hours in Maryland, for example), but they could be strengthened by specifying the nature of the practice that should be acquired.

Promising evidence shows how simple modifications to the practice driving that adolescents experience during the learning stage can significantly reduce crash risk during the first year of independent driving

For more information, contact Johnathon P. Ehsani, Department of Health Policy and Management.

Success Story

Child Car Seat Safety

Laticia Cannon first visited the Children’s Safety Center at the referral of her son Mica’s pediatrician. The Children’s Safety Center is a partnership between the Center and the Johns Hopkins Department of Pediatrics. A health educator conducted a personalized injury risk assessment and provided Laticia with a referral to the Baltimore City Fire Department for free smoke alarms. Laticia then returned to the safety center for a car seat appropriate for Mica’s age and weight, as well as instructions on how to use it correctly.

Her visits to the center proved to be lifesaving. Laticia and Mica were in a car crash and Mica survived with no injuries.

Laticia continued to visit the Children's Safety Center to replace Mica’s car seat as he grew, to buy him a bicycle helmet and to get an infant car seat for his baby sister. This young mother, like thousands of others who have visited the facility, has been able to provide her children with the best in safety practices and products.

Parents and caregivers looking for assistance with car seats, please visit our Resource Library. For more information about the Children's Safety Center and our Center's model Safety Center program, visit the Home Safety page.