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Improving Traffic Safety Culture in the United States: The Journey Forward

Summary and Synthesis


In 2006 the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety sponsored a workshop to develop a long-term traffic safety research agenda [a]. While participants proposed an extensive list of specific research topics, they raised the broader issue that real progress in traffic safety depends far more on changing this culture of indifference than on developing or implementing any specific countermeasure. In response, the Foundation commissioned 22 papers on traffic safety culture in the United States. The collected papers [b] range from the general to the specific, from broad discussions of social culture and individual behavior to specific recommendations on methods to change the current traffic safety culture.

This brief overview attempts to capture the main threads of the 22 papers’ somewhat daunting and occasionally contradictory 378 pages. In a sense it serves as an executive summary for the whole volume. However, its views are those of the overview’s author and do not claim to be endorsed by any of the individual papers’ authors or by the AAA Foundation. It necessarily omits much and simplifies much more. It cites some papers and quotes some authors directly but does not attempt to be complete – the same thoughts may appear in other papers as well. It invites you to read specific papers for more information on any topic, to think further about their ideas, and to develop and implement your personal strategies for changing our traffic safety culture of indifference.