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Policy Brief: Transportation, Public Health and Safety


The lack of clear direction and priorities in America’s transportation system has created huge costs for the health and well-being of residents, including reducing the opportunity for physical activity, polluting air, increasing traffic accidents, and intensifying poverty and inequality. For these reasons, Transportation for America organized this brief report to highlight facts related to transportation, public health, and safety, as well as goals and policy recommendations to combat these challenges and improve public health and safety.

Key Points

This policy brief succinctly details facts and figures related to public health and transportation, and highlights the need for making improvements to the U.S. transportation system in order to improve health and safety for all Americans, especially for the older adult population and the disabled who need alternatives to driving, and children who need safe and healthy communities for playing. While roads and highways are often built to accommodate fast and easy transport and great numbers of drivers, there needs to be more focus on safe routes for walking and biking.

Other policy brief highlights include:

  1. In terms of public health issues, obesity is one of the fastest growing issues, with 16 percent of children and 66 percent of adults being overweight.
  2. There is proof that children who go to school near highways have an increased likelihood of respiratory problems, and communities located near highways have a higher rate of lung cancer.
  3. Nearly half of older adults do not feel comfortable crossing a major road near their home.
  4. Around one-third of residents cannot access or do not have easy access to basic necessities, such as healthy food, employment, education and health care.

How to Use

For government officials and planners, the information provided in this brief document is a great starting point for rallying support around improving the transportation system in your area. The goals discussed are important for all local officials and planners to contemplate during the planning process. Additionally, there is information provided on programs that improve public health and safety, as well as policy recommendations that are essential to consider.

View full report: Policy Brief: Transportation, Public Health and Safety (PDF – 2 MB)

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