Background on Environment & Policy
What are environment and policy strategies?
- Environment and policy interventions are designed to create healthy places and practices to reduce motor vehicle injuries.
- Environmental interventions are designed to modify structures and physical surroundings in ways that improve individuals’ access to resources and overall capacity to prevent motor vehicle injuries that impact their own health or the health of those around them.
- Policy interventions are laws or regulations that are put in place to achieve a goal, including organizational policies or public policies at the local, state or national levels. Policies are an important way to focus on the social, economic, and environmental factors that serve to create and or enable motor vehicle safety (e.g., increasing infant or child safety, decreasing drinking and driving, reducing pedestrian injury, reducing the extent of injury when accidents do occur – seat belt use, or improving driving skills and behaviors in general or specific populations).
- Environment and policy interventions are intended to improve behaviors and environments in order to address the negative health outcomes of motor vehicle injuries. Environment and policy interventions include:
- Policies that support changes in laws and regulations regarding alcohol consumption and driving (e.g., drinking while driving – provide training and enforce laws to limit serving of alcohol to intoxicated individuals, create check points to assess alcohol levels, require interlock ignition devices to prohibit car ignition if driver is intoxicated, prohibit public consumption of alcohol, block new liquor store development, ban alcohol ads and items in university stores, enforce restrictions on sale of alcohol to minors, and increase penalties for driving under the influence.
- Policies that support environmental changes to decrease pedestrian injury – improve traffic signals and methods of signal change detection (e.g., chirping signal), stencil area for children to stand while waiting for the bus, use advance markings to indicate approaching crosswalk, create off-street play areas for children, and develop footpaths and crossing areas.
- Policies that support environmental and policy interventions to decrease speeding and other forms of aggressive driving – reduce and enforce speed limit, install traffic calming devices (e.g., speed humps, roundabouts), and mandate relaxation therapy for aggressive drivers.
- Policies that support changes in regulations including create graduated licenses and mandate road tests for older adults.
- Policies that support regulation of motor vehicle restraint or safety devices – mandate use of car or booster seats, enforce helmet and seat belt use laws, and designate sobriety or other driving test check points.
- Environmental interventions that include provision of motor vehicle restraint or safety devices – offer car or booster seats as well as helmets for motorcyclists, bicyclists, or other similar forms of transportation.
Why are environment and policy strategies useful?
- Environment and policy interventions are attractive because they have the potential to reach all community members and create community changes that last much longer than most other types of interventions. It is believed that changes in environments and policies are critical to creating broad-based changes in motor vehicle injuries.
- Motor vehicle injury environment and policy interventions affect the availability of and access to resources to reduce injury (e.g., car or booster seats) as well as disincentives for certain behaviors (e.g., restricted license if caught drinking and driving, restricted license for those with visual impairments).
How can I use environments and policy strategies in my motor vehicle injury intervention?
- Interventions may also include urban planning strategies (e.g., enhance access to safe places for children to play, new trails connecting neighborhoods to schools and other destinations), transportation strategies (e.g., traffic calming devices to slow traffic speed, crosswalks and other crossing devices, access to public transit systems), or other policy change or policy enforcement efforts (e.g., management support for not serving intoxicated individuals, encouragement of sobriety check points, prohibit bill board alcohol advertisements).
- Intervention strategies such as group education and campaigns and promotions are often used in conjunction with environment and policy interventions. These strategies can be used to provide information to vendors, restaurants, bars, worksites, or other places on the benefits of reducing motor vehicle injuries, guidance to encourage and enforce the desired policies, and communication to let others know about the environmental changes and or polices (e.g., newspaper, radio and television ads).
With whom should I work to develop and implement environment and policy strategies in my motor vehicle injury intervention?
- In order to create policies and environments that decrease motor vehicle injury, you may need to work with leaders, managers and other decision-makers to decide what makes sense for the community (e.g., decreased liquor ads, safe play areas for children, traffic calming devices) or organization (e.g., training to inform servers of laws prohibiting serving intoxicated individuals).
- You may want to meet with local organizations (e.g., educational institutions, community organizations) to decide what can be implemented as well as policy- and decision-makers to develop, enforce, and evaluate these policies and changes to the environment.
- It is also critical to work with local businesses that can help to implement these interventions (e.g., restaurant, clubs, bars). In addition, you might consider working with experts in public policy, law, advocacy, law enforcement, community organizing, insurance or other partners to decide what changes can be made to improve the community as well as how these changes can be promoted.