Road Safety in First Nation communities : in need of local interventions

Author(s): Stéphane Grenier, Laurence Hamel-Charest, Suzanne McMurphy, Brent Angell

Slidedeck Presentation:

2B - Grenier


Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among Aboriginal under 25 years (Groupe de travail sur les indicateurs de blessure chez les enfants et les jeunes des Premières Nations et Inuits, 2010). Considering that, on average, more than 50% of the population in Canadian First Nation communities is under 25 years, the impact is particularly important. The Assembly of First Nations (2011) has identified the automobile safety as one of the key factors contributing to injuries in communities. However, there are no specific data concerning how the Aboriginal use safety devices or on injuries rates in Canada. So we must infer from United States research data that the situation in Canada is as serious as there and that the incidence of injury predicts an alarming situation. To overcome this lack of information and to develop innovative and promising practices that can be shared and replicated in other Aboriginal communities, we develop a research project that used a participatory action research (PAR) approach that involves communities and aims at the empowerment and emancipation. Several Aboriginal communities were selected and in each of one of them, we drew a local portrait of the safety road and designed local interventions to reduce injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents. We will present the results of case studies that took place in two Quebec anshinabek communities. A survey was first distributed to document various practices (use of booster seats, seat belt, etc.) and document the conception about potential injuries. Then, an intervention program was designed with the community to develop community practices that aim to solve problems related to the safe use of motorized vehicles and the proper use of child restraint devices. Finally, the survey was administered again to assess the impact of prevention activity on behaviours and knowledge in matters of road safety standards. We found that Anshinabek of Lac Simon were aware of the various behaviours at risks for the community road safety and that more than the half of the respondents found the community unsafe and a fairly large percentage of the respondents (approximately 40%) believed that road safety standards (respect speed limit, seatbelt, helmet, etc.) will have only little impact on the road security in the community. Since a short period of time occurred between prevention activities and impacts assessment, we did not note radical changes in behaviour but we notice a better knowledge of good behaviour adopted for prevent accidents and injuries (ex.: where a child should sit in a car). Most of all, our research allows us to highlight the importance of a collaborative approach that values aboriginal knowledge and experiences to develop locally adapted prevention activities. Two different collective interventions were developed in both communities. Each of them will be exposed and discuss. To get a broader picture, we intend to conduct this research in other Aboriginal communities.