Section Progress:

Information from your own community will probably be the most useful to you. You can learn how to gather and use data from your own community in the Modules 4-5.  But if you are short on time, existing national and state data can be very helpful.

Here are some sources of information that might be useful to you: 

Child Safety Seat Use Data

There are several resources for existing data estimating the percent of children who use child safety seats.

The Native CARS Study
1.Native CARS

The Native CARS study (which informs this Atlas) collected child safety seat use data among six Northwest tribes, two in Idaho, two in Oregon, and two in Washington. In 2009, proper child restraint use varied from 24% to 70% by tribe. Overall, 49% of the 1853 children age 12 and younger were properly restrained in an age and size-appropriate restraint. Risk factors for riding improperly restrained included riding with an unrestrained or nonparent driver, riding 5 minutes from home or less, and traveling in an area where child passenger restraint laws were weaker than national recommendations.


To read the full Native CARS 2009 Aggregate Report click here.

Other Native CARS data resources include:


National Occupant Protection Use Surveys (NOPUS)
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) collects and publishes occupant restraint use data, including child restraint use, each year. While American Indian specific data are not available (race is collected as White, Black, or Other), it is a good source of national data and state-specific data. Reports are published on the NHTSA website. Follow the link and click on the “National Occupant Protection Use Surveys (NOPUS)” (for reports on overall seat belt use) or “National Survey of the Use of Booster Seats (NSUBS)” (for detailed child safety seat data on children ages 12 and under).
Seat Belt Use on Reservations
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Indian Highway Safety Program established the first baseline tribal reservation seat belt use rate in 2004. And they did a follow-up survey in 2006. Data was collected from 16 reservations across the country. They found that seat belt use ranged from 27.7% to 87.8% by reservation, and that seat belt use correlated with tribal seat belt policy. The full report can be found here.

Motor Vehicle Injury and Mortality Data 

CDC WONDER (CDC Wide-ranging ONline Data for Epidemiologic Research)

CDC WONDER manages nearly 20 collections of public-use data for U.S. births, deaths, cancer diagnoses, tuberculosis cases, vaccinations, environmental exposures, and population estimates, among many other topics. These data collections are available as online databases, which provide public access to ad-hoc queries, summary statistics, maps, charts, and data extracts. Most of the data are updated annually; some collections are updated monthly or weekly.

This PowerPoint  [CDC WONDER Tutorial for MV Data] will walk you through the steps to create a motor vehicle fatality chart like the one below. This Excel file [Motor Vehicle Fatality Chart] has the chart pre-made. Download it and paste your query results to make your own chart.  If you don’t need the full tutorial, or cannot download the files, the  quick steps below will walk you through a  CDC WONDER query that will make a chart within the CDC WONDER system.  Go to the website here: CDC WONDER

CDC WONDER Motor Vehicle Fatality Chart

Quick Links for CDC WONDER Graph

Quick Steps for creating a graph using CDC WONDER

Quick Steps for CDC WONDER Excel Graph

Quick Steps for creating an Excel graph using CDC WONDER



Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)
Quick link to Native American Traffic Safety Facts:

Table of Native American fatal crash data

Mapping Fatal Vehicle Crashes Using FARS

 Quick links to maps:

All Native American traffic fatalities

Native American fatalities on reservations

All fatalities on reservations

Why map fatal vehicle crashes?
Mapping is a great way of demonstrating how a variety of issues can affect a community and are powerful presentation tools as we are faster to grasp maps than tables or figures.  By mapping fatal vehicle crashes you can illustrate the extent to which your community has been impacted by the worst type of motor vehicle crash, a crash in which a person lost their life.

In this section you will learn:

  • What is FARS?
  • How does FARS gather their information?
  • How does FARS identify fatal crashes on Tribal Reservations?
  • Using Existing FARS Facts to Create Maps
  • Using New FARS Queries to Create Maps
  • Limitations of using FARS to Create Maps

What is FARS?

The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) is a nationwide census of fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes in the United States.  Its goal is to identify and monitor traffic safety problems and aid the development of appropriate solutions to these problems.  FARS records many factors behind traffic fatalities, including details about the crash, each vehicle, drivers, all vehicle occupants, non-occupants (bicyclists, pedestrians, etc.), and pre-crash circumstances.

Fatality Analysis Reporting System home page:

How does FARS gather their information?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) is the federal government agency that oversees FARS.  The NHTSA has a cooperative agreement with an agency in each State’s government to provide information on all qualifying motor vehicle crashes.

For a crash to be included in FARS, all the following criteria must be met:

  • The crash must involve at least one motor vehicle in-transport on a public traffic way
  • The crash must involve at least one human fatality
  • The fatality must occur within 30 days of the crash
  • The fatality must be a direct result of the crash
  • The fatality must not be a result of deliberate intent

Over 100 different factors are collected from State’s existing documents and transmitted daily to a central NHTSA computer where several quality control measures are in place to ensure the consistency, completeness and accuracy of the data.  Below are some of the existing records from which data was extracted:

  • Police accident reports
  • State vehicle registration files
  • States driver licensing files
  • State highway department data
  • Vital statistics
  • Death certificates
  • Coroner/medical examiner reports
  • Hospital medical reports
  • Emergency medical service reports
  • Other state records

How does FARS identify fatal crashes on Tribal Reservations?

Two types of factors are used to identify if a fatal motor vehicle crash has occurred on Tribal Reservations: jurisdiction and GPS coordinates (latitude/longitude).  FARS records if a fatal crash has occurred in a special jurisdiction, such as on land under Tribal jurisdiction.  Even though an area may be patrolled by state, county or local police, the fatal crash still qualifies as happening in a special jurisdiction.  For instance, all State highways running through Tribal Reservations are under the jurisdiction of the Tribe.  There is one exception.  If a fatal crash occurred on an Interstate, this crash is not considered to be under the regulation of a special jurisdiction.

FARS also records GPS coordinates when they are available.  These GPS coordinates are imported into Geospatial software, along with land boundaries from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and a data element is created which indicates if the fatal crash happened within BIA boundaries.

More information about how FARS identifies fatal crashes on Tribal Reservations can be found here:

Using Existing FARS Facts to Create Maps  

FARS has released a fact sheet, designed to provide easier access to traffic safety information, about fatal motor vehicle crashes which have impacted American Indian/Alaskan Native communities: “Native American Traffic Safety Facts, FARS”.  This fact sheet reports the number of fatalities for all American Indian/Alaskan Native fatalities, American Indian/Alaskan Native fatalities on federally-recognized Tribal Reservations, and all fatalities on federally-recognized Tribal Reservations.  These three types of tabulations are reported for 40 different combinations of factors or categories.

By clicking on the link below, you will be taken directly to “Native American Traffic Safety Facts”:

In order to create a map from these tabulations, first choose the type of tabulation and category you wish to map.  Which type of tabulation you choose will depend on your community and its needs.  Choosing “All Native American fatalities” will allow you the most flexibility in creating a map for any area of interest to your community, especially if an area of interest is beyond federally-recognized Tribal Reservation boundaries.

Once you have chosen a type of tabulation and category, click on the appropriate “Total” hyperlink in the last column of the table.  For example, if we want to map crashes in which an American Indian/Alaskan Native driver suffered a fatal injury while within federally-recognized Tribal Reservation boundaries, then we would click on the hyperlink for “Traffic Fatalities (Driver Only), Native Americans on Reservations”.

A map will appear in a new browser widow, which displays the location of each fatal crash in the category you have chosen.

If you wish to display a particular year(s), you can use the legend to remove or add the year(s) you want to map.  To change the years shown on your map, deselect or select the year on the legend.

If your community has an area of interest to display, you can zoom into this area.  Use the +/- slide bar on left hand side of map to zoom in, then click anywhere on the map to grab and move the map to re-center it around the area you wish to display.  Below is an example of a map which has been centered over an area of interest.

To save your map, you will have to take a screen shot of your desktop using a tool such as the Snipping Tool if you have Windows.  Here is a link to a website describing how to do this for either Windows or Mac:

You may notice that the number of fatalities reported in the fact sheet is larger than the number of crashes on your map.  As more people can suffer a fatal injury in one crash, we expect the number of fatalities to possibly be higher than the number of crashes.

For a brief discussion on the limitations of using FARS to create maps, please read the section “Limitations of using FARS to Create Maps” later on in this tutorial.

Using New FARS Queries to Create Maps

If you do not find the factors or categories you desire to map in the list of existing FARS Native American Traffic Safety Facts, then you will need to make your map by building a new FARS query.  Click on the link to start building your new FARS query:

On this web-page, you will also find some additional training materials that go over the FARS query system.

The first step in building a map from a new FARS query is to choose a year that you would like to map.  The FARS query system only allows you to choose one year at a time, so your map will only contain information for the one year you choose.  This is different than when you create a map using existing FARS facts, which allows you to map multiple years together.  Select a year from the drop down menu on the right hand side of the page and click “Submit”.

Now you will choose the combinations of tables that contain the fields you are interested in. Most likely, you will select Option 1 or Option 3. In this example, we will select Option 1 for person-level data and hit “Submit.”



















Next you will need to choose the factors or “fields” you would like to use in creating your map.  Do this by clicking the check box next to the factor name.  A check mark will appear to indicate that the factor has been selected.  If you wish to deselect a factor, click on the check mark again.  If you wish to clear all your selections, click “Clear Form”.  Once you have chosen all your factors of interest, click “Submit”.  For example, we will map fatal crashes occurring on federally-recognized Tribal Reservations in which a person suffered an incapacitating injury and was not using a restraint system (e.g. seat belt or car seat).  To do this, we will click on the check boxes next to these factors: special jurisdiction, injury severity, and protection system use.


The third step in building a map from a new FARS query is to select specific values from each of your chosen factors in order to specify the information you wish to map.  If you choose more than one factor, fatal crashes will have to meet all of your selection criteria to be included in the results of your query.  You can also choose multiple values for a chosen factor by holding down the “Control” key on a PC or “Shift” on a Macintosh and then clicking on the different values you wish to select.  After selecting your specific values, click “Case Listing” to compute the query.  To continue on with our example, we will select the value “(3) Indian Reservation” from the list of special jurisdiction values, “(3) Incapacitating Injury” from injury the severity values, and “(0) None Used/Not Applicable – Not a Motor Vehicle Occupant” from the protection system use values.


Next, the FARS query system will prompt you to choose a format for the results of your query.  Click “Click Here to check all fields” and a check mark will appear in all the check boxes on the webpage.  Selecting all the fields will produce the fullest report of your results possible in the next step.  Then click “Submit”.


A query results list will appear which catalogs the people, vehicles, or crashes that fit your selection criteria.  You may notice that the “Case Number” or “Vehicle Number” are repeated in your list, this is because more than one person in a crash or vehicle can meet your selection criteria.  Click “Map It!’ to produce your map.


Your map will show the location of each fatal crash according to the factors for which you queried FARS.  At the bottom of the screen your search criteria will be reported.  You can click on the factor hyperlink in order to see a list of values for that factor.  You can also zoom into an area of interest by using the +/- slide bar on left hand side of map, then click anywhere on the map to grab and move the map to re-center it around the area you wish to display.



Again, you may notice that the number of vehicle or people in your query results list is greater than the number of crashes on your map.  As more people can suffer a fatal injury in one crash, we expect the vehicles or people to possibly be higher than the number of crashes.


For a brief discussion on the limitations of using FARS to create maps, please read the following section:

Limitations of using FARS to Create Maps

As you use FARS to map fatal motor vehicle crashes, you may notice that your own knowledge is more complete than FARS.  Since FARS records information from many sources, its completeness depends on how many reports are available for each fatal crash.  FARS may be more or less complete in some areas because the relationship between Tribes and State governmental agencies differ.  This impacts the accuracy of maps displaying the number of crashes on federally-recognized Tribal Reservations.  If the information needed is not present in an incident report and/or the FARS data coder does not have local knowledge of land boundaries, then it would not be possible to determine if a fatal crash occurred on a Tribal Reservation.  Thus, the number of crashes on Tribal Reservations may be underrepresented.


When you create a map using existing FARS facts, both jurisdiction and GPS coordinates are used to determine if a fatal crash occurred on a federally-recognized Tribal Reservation.  Only jurisdiction is used when you create a map using a new FARS query.  If you compare the two ways of making maps, the map created using a new FARS query will be less accurate because this method uses less information to determine where a fatal crash occurred.


FARS only records the race/ethnicity of people who suffered a fatal injury in the motor vehicle crash.  A map created using this set of facts will not include crashes in which an American Indian/Alaskan Native suffered less than a fatal injury.  Also, as with any database, race is not always accurately recorded and American Indians are more likely to be misclassified than other races.

WISQARS (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System)

WISQARSTM  is an interactive database system that provides customized reports of injury-related data, including motor vehicle injuries and deaths. Fatal injury data from death certificates can be searched, and data is available by American Indian/Alaska Native race, by census region, and by age group.

National nonfatal injury data from injuries treated in hospital emergency departments is also available, but race-specific nonfatal injury data is not available.

The following will walk you through a search on the WISQARS database.  Go to the website here.  

If you click “Fatal Injury Data” you have an option to choose the Data Visualization. The Data Visualization tool is very informative. You can click on any part of the dashboard  – for example, on the American Indian and Alaska Native bar at the bottom – and all the data will repopulate for your selection. You can further refine by clicking on your state of interest. If you click on Washington, for example, the dashboard will recalculate for AI/AN in Washington State.

For a customized query, follow the clicks below. The website may be updated to look a bit different or include more recent years of data, but the data you select looks the same. 

To find American Indian Motor Vehicle Occupant fatalities for children age birth to 8 in your state:

Click Fatal Injury Data -> Fatal Injury Reports 1981-2017 

Select Unintentional -> Motor Vehicle, traffic -> Occupant

In Section 3, select your state. Under “Race” select “American Indian/Alaskan Native.” Under “Years of Report,” you will probably need to select multiple years to report data. WISQARS does not report numbers less than 10 to protect the identity of the deceased. Luckily, motor vehicle fatalities are a rare enough event that you will need multiple years of data to find more than 10 fatalities, especially if you restrict it to young children.

For child motor vehicle fatalities, under “Advanced Options,” select the age range of interest. To match the minimum recommended ages to use child safety seats, select “<1” to “8.”

Because we are requesting a specific age group, it does not matter if you click “No Age-Adjusting Requested” or “Use 2000 as the standard year.” The results will be the same.

Click “Submit Request.”

This will show you that 15 American Indian children age 0-8 died as occupants in unintentional motor vehicle crashes in the state of Arizona from 2000-2014.

To compare motor vehicle fatalities across race, in Section 3, select your region or state, the years of report, and under “Race” select “All Races.”

Under “Advanced Groups,” select your age range of interest.

If you are making comparisons for all ages across races, use age adjusting.  Because we are requesting data for a specific age group in this example, age-adjusting is irrelevant.

Under “Select output groups” select “Race.”

Click “Submit Request.”

In this example, we compared unintentional motor vehicle traffic occupant deaths over a five year period for children age 0-8 of all races in the entire United States. You can see that 41 AI/AN children died from motor vehicle crashes during this time period. Look at the crude rate in the right-hand column and notice that this is more than double the rate of the general population.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published a fact sheet on motor vehicle injuries among American Indians and Alaska Natives using WISQARS data. It’s a great reference if you’re looking for motor vehicle fatality statistics and risk factors for American Indians nationwide. Click here for the fact sheet.


State crash data


Crash data may be available from your state. Formats vary by state, from summarized reports, to spreadsheets, to interactive sites where you can search for the data you want to see. Your best bet for finding crash data for your state is searching for it online, or contacting your state department of transportation. Here are some resources we have used in the Northwest:


Washington – Use the crash data portal to find all kinds of data on crashes, including severity of injuries, risk factors, and maps.







NCAI (The National Congress of American Indians) Policy


The NCAI Policy and Research Center issued a report on reservation road safety and recommendations for tribal public health law. The report contains American Indian/Alaska Native-specific injury data, fatality data, and seat belt data.






Thank you for completing Module 3: Find Data to Support your Campaign. To learn how to collect data in your own community, go to the next module.