Public Opinion on Motor Vehicle-Related Injury Prevention Policies: A Systematic Review of a Decade of Research

Beata Debinski, Katherine Clegg Smith, Andrea Gielen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: Legislation is an effective strategy for reducing road-related fatalities and injuries. Public opinion can be an impetus for passing new laws and can affect the success of their implementation, but little is known about the current state of public opinion toward existing and proposed road-related policies in the United States. This review describes the scope and results of research on public support for state- and local-level evidence-based motor vehicle- and bicycle-related policies. We identify gaps in our understanding of public support for these policies. Methods: Published U.S. literature and all reports from the NHTSA from the past decade (2003-2012) were searched for data on opinions about existing or proposed policies related to motor vehicle or bicycle injury prevention. Twenty-six studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. In all, studies reported public opinion about 7 injury prevention topic areas: all-terrain vehicles (n = 1), automated enforcement with red light and speed cameras (n = 5), distracted driving (n = 4), drinking and driving (n = 5), graduated driver licensing (n = 7), helmets (n = 7), and seat belts (n = 4). Twenty-three studies focused only on one topic, and 3 sought public opinion about multiple topic areas. Results: The studies revealed generally high levels of support for injury prevention policies in all topic areas. Fifteen studies collected information from national samples, and only 7 studies reported data from the state (n = 5) or local (n = 2) level. Conclusions: There is a relatively small evidence base on public opinion related to motor vehicle- and bicycle-related evidence-based policies; even less is less known for state- or county-specific policies. The findings of this review suggest that the public's opinion toward injury prevention legislation is generally favorable. This information can be used to communicate with the media and policy makers to reinforce the need for effective policy solutions to continuing motor vehicle injury problems. More research is needed to understand the perspectives of those who do not hold favorable opinions, to understand opinions toward local or state-level policies, and to monitor trends in public opinion over time. Supplemental materials are available for this article. Go to the publisher's online edition of Traffic Injury Prevention to view the supplemental file.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-251
Number of pages9
JournalTraffic Injury Prevention
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2014


  • bicycle
  • injury prevention
  • motor vehicle
  • policy
  • public opinion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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