Why Public Health Officials Must Play a Central Role in Traffic Safety

Civil engineers play an “outsized role” in designing transportation systems and undermine public safety — and to prevent the epidemiologic problem of traffic injuries and deaths, public health officials need to get more involved, a new report argues.

There is, of course, a growing understanding of the scope of the problem in a nation where roughly 42,795 were killed in crashes last year — a figure so alarming that federal Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called it a “national crisis.”

But not enough systemic change is being made, according to the authors of the new report, “The Safe Systems Pyramid: A New Framework for Traffic Safety,” published recently in Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives…

The report advances a “safe systems pyramid” and argues that public health officials’ role in Vision Zero needs to change from mere data collection and evaluation to actually applying public health concepts — such as the notion of prevention — to traffic safety.