Prevent injury to Vermonters

% of drivers using car restraints

89%2021

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Story Behind the Curve

Last Updated: August 2022

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.

In 2015, our nation lost over 30,000 lives on our roadways; 57 of those were in Vermont. Impairment by alcohol, drugs or both were a contributing factor in almost half of last year’s fatal crashes in Vermont. Approximately 30% of the reported fatalities failed to use or were improperly using seatbelts.

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.

Partners

Governor's Highway Safety Program, Vermont Highway Safety Alliance, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Child Passenger Safety Technicians, Law Enforcement, EMS, Fire, Hospitals, Pediatricians, community organizations.

What Works

Restraint use among young children often depends upon the driver’s seat belt use. The Vermont Department of Health Child Passenger Safety program promotes safe restraint use by all passengers in a vehicle in a way to increase safe restraint use in children.


Strategy

A mix of awareness, education, and enforcement activities. Partnering with a wide variety of partners to deliver the message in a variety of ways and contexts in a coordinated manner.

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?

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among those aged 1-54 in the U.S. For adults and older children, seat belt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes. (CDC)

Notes on Methodology

The 2016 seat belt use rate was calculated by a different contractor with differing methodology. The 2021 report was produced by an contractor in coordiation with the Agency of Transportation. 

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