Prevent injury to Vermonters

Nonfatal motor vehicle crash-related injury rate per 100,000 Vermonters


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Story Behind the Curve

Last Updated: November 2016

Author: Injury Prevention Program Team, Vermont Department of Health

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury in the US and in Vermont. In 2012, leaders in the pursuit of safer Vermont highways and local roads launched an initiative to formalize a statewide integrated safety program. This initiative led to the formation of the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance (VHSA), whose members include a broad cross section of public and private organizations that represent all users of the State’s highway system and encompass the 4 E’s of highway safety - Education, Enforcement, Engineering, and Emergency Services. The VHSA is comprised of a Board of Directors and five Focus Groups, which include Enforcement, Data, Education, Infrastructure, and Outreach and Marketing. The VHSA partners are committed to working as a team to accomplish common goals that promote the safety of motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and all users traveling on Vermont highways.

Vermont has made significant progress in reducing all types of crashes on the State’s highways since the implementation of the 2006 State Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). Although this downward trend is impressive, major crashes have consistently accounted for approximately 3% of all crashes. While 3% may seem like a low number, this percentage translates to an average of 387 people per year losing their life or incurring life altering injuries on our highways.

Major crashes have the most severe impact on the State as their effects are far reaching and include the loss of human life. The VHSA has targeted the reduction of major crashes in the State of Vermont as the primary goal of the SHSP. The plan is intended to follow the objectives of FHWA’s national effort to improve highway safety known as Toward Zero Deaths. Similar to the Toward Zero Deaths initiative, the SHSP is a data-driven effort focusing on identifying and creating opportunities for changing Vermont’s culture as it relates to highway safety. The success of the SHSP will rely on a team of champions working together on a myriad of factors surrounding highway safety.

The Vermont Department of Health partners with the Highway Safety Alliance and the Governor's Highway Safety program to target efforts towards Vermont's youngest road users, children under the age of 18. The Department of Health runs the state child passenger safety program which aims to increase and sustain safety seat and seat belt use for children 0–18 and reduce child injury and fatality rates.


Vermont Agency of Transportation

Vermont Governor's Highway Safety Program

Vermont Highway Safety Alliance

Vermont State Police

Vermont EMS Agencies, Law Enforcement, and Hospitals

What Works

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have compiled a listing of 12 effective interventions to reduce injury and death from motor vehicle crashes.

  • Automated red-light camera enforcement (red-light camera),
  • Automated speed-camera enforcement (speed camera),
  • Alcohol interlocks,
  • Sobriety checkpoints,
  • Saturation patrols,
  • Bicycle helmet laws for children (bicycle helmet),
  • Universal motorcycle helmet laws (motorcycle helmet),
  • Primary enforcement of seat belt laws (primary enforcement of seat belt laws),
  • High-visibility enforcement for seat belts and child restraint laws (seat belt enforcement campaign),
  • License plate impoundment,
  • Limits on diversion and plea agreements (limits on diversion), and
  • Vehicle impoundment


The Vermont Child Passenger Safety Program, BeSeatSmart, provides hands on help, advice, consultations, presentations, training, materials and support to residents of Vermont. BeSeatSmart provides best practice advice as given and sourced by the American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA).

The Vermont Child Passenger program coordinates yearly training of over 150 nationally certified technicians, annual training of new technicians, creating and supporting fitting stations, holding open-to-the-public inspections, a telephone hot-line manned by a certified technician, a website, displays at public events, creation and distribution of educational materials, and distribution of free car seats to children in need and at risk.

Similar to statewide efforts, local partners are using data to drive local strategy. For regional data on injury indicators, check out our Public Health Data Explorer.

What We Do

The Vermont Department of Health works closely with the Agency of Transportation, the Vermont State Police, and the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance on a number of on-going traffic safety campaigns aimed at increasing proper car seat and seat belt use. A mix of awareness, education, and enforcement strategies are used to reinforce the proper use of car restraints. The VDH offers free inspection and installation of car seats to Vermonters around the state through certified fitting stations.

Who We Serve

The Vermont Department of Health serves parents, caregivers, and children directly through free inspection and installation of car seats and education on proper use. We also promote the use of seat belts by all family members.

How We Impact

The Vermont Child Passenger Safety program developed an evaluation plan in 2015 in an effort to better measures outcomes of the program. Our constant evaluation of the program ensures that we are using our resources in the most efficient manner. We currently measure the following program indicators:

  • Motor vehicle injuries and fatalities
  • Number of certified child passenger safety technicians
  • Drive times to fitting stations where the public can receive free car seat inspection and installation services
  • Number of citations given out
  • Car seat inspection data
  • Number of car seats given out to low income families
  • Number of requests for information and assistance through our hotline, website, facebook and email accounts
  • Number of trainings completed
  • Number of community events completed
Why Is This Important?

This indicator is part of Healthy Vermonters 2020 (the State Health Assessment) that documents the health status of Vermonters at the start of the decade and the population health indicators and goals that will guide the work of public health through 2020. Click here for more information.

Notes on Methodology

Data source is the VT Uniform Hospital Discharge Dataset and includes all Vermont residents, including those seen in hospitals out of state. As a result of incorporating out of state data, there is a delay that affects the ability to perform final calculations for more recent years. Additionally, data from 2015 is not represented as this year includes the transition from the 9th to the 10th revision of ICD clinical modification diagnosis codes. Due to fundamental changes in the coding system, data prior to 2015 cannot be used for comparison to data 2016 and later.


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