The Center for Health Safety Culture engaged in a research project with the Traffic Safety Culture Pooled Fund to better understand the cultural factors associated with traffic safety citizenship. Road users have an important role in achieving the goal of zero deaths and serious injuries. In Sweden, the origin of the Vision Zero strategy, traffic safety leaders recognized that “road users were responsible for showing consideration for having a sense of judgment and responsibility in traffic, and for complying with traffic regulations,” and that growing these elements was a component of the zero deaths initiative (Belin, M.-Å., Tillgren, P., & Vedung, E. (2012). Vision Zero – a road safety policy innovation. International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, 19(2), 171–179).

Thus, engagement in traffic safety by road users is an important component of a comprehensive Toward Zero Death (TZD) strategy. Also called “safety citizenship,” focused on growing prosocial, traffic safety-related behaviors by everyone, is a strategic shift from focusing on directly impacting the behavior of an often small group engaging in risky behaviors. The strategy was to foster more active engagement by the larger majority of safe road users to influence the behaviors of the smaller risk group – thus shifting from a compliant model of safety (“avoiding violating laws”) to a commitment model of safety (“I choose to be safe and want those around me to be safe”).

The Center developed, implemented, and analyzed surveys to better understand the cultural factors that influenced traffic safety citizenship. Recommendations based on the analyses sought to inform strategies to grow traffic safety citizenship.

For more information, visit MDT Transportation Pooled Fund Traffic Safety Culture. Final reports can be found at


The Role of Social Capital in Traffic Safety Citizenship Article Publication

Kari Finley Ph.D., Jay Otto M.S., and Nic Ward Ph.D. with the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) at Montana State University have published an article in the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies. The article titled “The Role of Social Capital in Traffic Safety Citizenship” focuses on two traffic safety citizenship behaviors: asking a passenger to wear a seat belt and asking a driver to stop texting on a cell phone while driving and explores the role of social capital to facilitate engagement in these behaviors with strangers. Results indicate that social capital may influence engagement in traffic safety citizenship behaviors. 

The article is available through Open Access and can be found at or

Citation- Finley, K., Otto, J. & Ward, N.J. (2018). The Role of Social Capital in Traffic Safety Citizenship. The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies 13:2, 29-41. doi:10.18848/2327-0071/CGP/v13i02/29-41


This project was conducted in cooperation with the US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, and the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) through Pooled Fund project TPF-5(309). The final report was approved by MDT and can be found on their website.

Sponsor: Montana Department of Transportation
Start Date: 06/05/15
End Date: 12/31/16
PI: Ward