Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)

Legacy Department

City and Regional Planning

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dunning, Anne

Committee Member

Nocks , Barry

Committee Member

Sperry , Stephen


Native Americans, as a group, face many challenges including the highest motor-vehicle fatality rate of any racial or ethnic group in the United States. While national motor-vehicle fatality rates have declined, the fatality rates for Indian reservations have continued to rise. Because addressing road safety requires significant interdisciplinary work, collaboration is an important tool; however, collaborations between tribal entities and non-tribal partners face a number of unique challenges including tense historical relationships, tribal sovereignty, and cultural differences. A variety of strategies can be utilized to address these challenges including methods such as regular face-to-face meetings to build trust, establishing formal agreements to lay the groundwork for collaboration, or utilizing a tribal liaison.
Despite the multiple methods available for collaborations, the precise relationship between collaboration and safety outcomes on reservation roads has yet to be established, a link this research seeks to address. The objectives of this research were to establish a framework for evaluating collaboration on reservation road safety and then to use that framework to assess the relationship between collaboration and safety outcomes. The framework was developed based on a literature review covering strategies used by tribes as well as broader collaboration methods and issues. The framework was then utilized to develop a survey of people working on tribal road safety. Fatal crash data were obtained from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System to represent safety outcomes on reservation roads.
The results revealed statistically significant differences in the perceptions of existing collaboration between tribal and non-tribal representatives; however, in some cases there were also stark differences between representatives from the same tribal entity. The relationship between collaboration, as measured in the framework, and safety outcomes, as measured by fatal crashes on the reservation, yielded mixed results. Regression analysis provided strong confidence in a weak relationship between the two variables. In fact, there has probably been a more complex relationship than could be demonstrated through regression; it is likely that both variables can be dependent or independent in different contexts. The lack of information and data on tribal transportation collaboration tools presents a challenge; while information from other types of collaborations can be generalized, the context and complexities of collaborations between tribes and non-tribal entities make them unique.



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