Transportation and Health

Three female pedestrians crossing a street.Transportation decisions that take place upstream affect our lives downstream. We all use various ways to get to work or school, to access healthy foods and to do countless other things every day. Yet poor transportation decisions can harm health and are not always fair across all communities.

For example, communities near a highway or major roadway are often low-income and communities of color. Living near a highway or major roadway increases a person's exposure to traffic-related air pollution. Traffic-related air pollution is linked to respiratory conditions like wheezing and decreased lung functioning and also cardiovascular disease. Long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution is linked to childhood asthma.

APHA speaks out for transportation policy that improves, rather than hinders, public health. We believe in working with the transportation sector to create equitable and healthy transportation policies. The resources on this page give more information on the link between public health, equity and transportation.

News release: Commuters Reduce their Crash Risk by More than 90 Percent When Taking Public Transit Instead of Driving

Measuring what we value: Prioritizing public health to build prosperous regions

A new set of case studies released by Transportation for America, with support from APHA, showcases a range of strategies that metro area planning agencies can use to strengthen the local economy, improve public health outcomes for all of their residents, promote social equity and better protect the environment. Learn more from Transportation for America and listen to the webinar about the case studies. 

Transportation and Health Tool

Check out the Transportation and Health Tool! The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with support from APHA, partnered to create a simple-to-use Transportation and Health Tool, or THT. The tool shows how a specific geographic area is performing in terms of health and transportation. And the tool gives transportation officials and policymakers recommendations on how to use the proposed strategies, interventions and policies to improve health outcomes in their own community. Learn more about the THT, and assess your own community!

Read an article in the November/December 2016 Public Roads magazine about the Transportation and Health Tool. 

Listen to the Transportation and Health Tool: Demonstrating health impacts of transportation decisions webinar (hosted by APHA with support from CDC).

View the webinar slides: Tegan Boehmer, Ann Steedly (PDF)  


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