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Transportation Health Tool Background

Why This Tool Is Needed

Everyone benefits from using roadways, streets, sidewalks, trails, and public transportation for everyday needs. People use these facilities to get to and from work, school, and play, and to access basic necessities, such as health services and grocery stores. Transportation systems can also have harmful effects. These range from decreased air quality to a lack of safe places to walk, bike, and engage in physical activity without unnecessary risk.

For a long time, transportation policy, program, and funding decisions gave little attention to public health effects and benefits. That has begun to change. Many state officials, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and partners now include public health goals and health criteria in transportation planning and policies and transportation project selection. The public health community has also begun to partner with transportation planning agencies to integrate health considerations in transportation work.

How We Built This Tool

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) – together with the American Public Health Association (APHA) – partnered to develop this simple-to-use Transportation and Health Tool. The tool highlights the connection between transportation and public health and can help improve transportation decision making. The tool enables transportation decision makers and the public to compare their region or state with others on key health and transportation indicators.

CDC, USDOT, and APHA worked together, with input from an expert panel, to carefully select transportation and health indicators for use in this tool. We designed the tool to be a useful resource for transportation decision makers around the country. It gives them an overview and key perspectives on how their decisions affect the health of the communities they serve. Detailed information on the indicators and their use is available on the Indicator Profiles page.