ISU Headlines

Idaho State University’s Piland involved with award-winning auto crash prevention program

Posted June 28, 2011

Idaho State University Institute of Rural Health director Neill Piland has been notified that the San Carlos Apache Motor Vehicle Prevention Program has been selected for a 2010 Indian Health Service (IHS) Director's Award.

The award was received in Washington, D.C., in June. Piland contributed to the program with a cost-benefit analysis of the intervention program, which has had great success in saving both lives and money. 

"It is a big honor both locally and nationally," Piland said. "These accidents are preventable events, and with this program people will recognize that this is a serious issue. The fact that the program reduces serious injury on the reservation is the major payoff. It means the health of the population is better and many lives will be saved."

According to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention, American Indians and Alaska Natives have a motor vehicle-related death rate more than one-and-a-half times greater than the rate for all other Americans. To help address this disparity, the CDC awarded funds in 2004 to four tribes to tailor and implement evidence-based injury prevention programs.

The San Carlos Apache (SCA) Tribe is located in southeast Arizona on 1.8 million acres of land with a population of more than 10,000 residents. In 2004, the SCA Tribe established the Tribal Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention Program (TMVIPP) within the SCA Police Department. The goal of this program was to reduce motor vehicle-related injury and death by decreasing alcohol-impaired driving and increasing restraint (seatbelts, child car seats) use. The program teamed up with IHS, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and several tribe groups for support. The SCA TMVIPP activities included enhanced police enforcement, sobriety checkpoints, a comprehensive media campaign and local community events.

From 2004 to 2010 the program achieved great success. Highlights include a 17 percent increase in DUI arrests, a 30 percent decline in motor vehicle crashes with injuries or fatalities, a 39 percent decrease in nighttime motor vehicle crashes with injuries or fatalities, and a 108 percent increase in restraint use. The program also proved to be cost effective saving $2.7 million in injury costs. For every dollar spent to implement the program, there was almost $10 generated in savings from reduced medical and other costs.

For more information regarding the efforts of the Indian Health Service visit www.ihs.gov.

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