Motor Vehicle Safety

Revised June 2021, June 2015, September 2008 

Reaffirmed October 2001

Revised June 1997

Originally approved April 1985


Traumatic injury to operators, passengers and bystanders from motor vehicle crashes is one of the most frequent causes of injury to patients treated by emergency physicians. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) recommends a multifaceted coordinated effort between private and commercial motor vehicle operators, recreation enthusiasts, vehicle manufacturers, federal/state/local agencies, and the medical community to improve motor vehicle safety and thereby reduce society’s burden of disability, death, and costs related to motor vehicle trauma.

Emergency physicians must be knowledgeable about injury mechanisms and management of time-critical injuries of motor vehicle trauma. ACEP encourages its members to take the lead in motor vehicle safety activities at local, state, and national levels.

ACEP supports the development and implementation of programs, policies, legislation, regulations, and public education that will increase the safe use of all motorized vehicles including commercial, personal transportation and recreational vehicles.*

ACEP supports high-value motor vehicle safety activities which include, but are not limited to:

  • Enforcement of existing speed limits and oppose further increases in speed limits.
  • Adopt and enforce primary safety-belt use laws and extend them to cover all seating positions in all motorized vehicles where feasible.
  • Strengthen and enforce existing child safety seat laws and their use in appropriate locations within motor vehicles, consistent with current guideline recommendations (i.e., rear-facing child seats until children are 2 to 4 years old, rear seat use until children are 14 years old).
  • Adopt and enforce laws requiring all motorcyclists, bicyclists, and other wheeled recreational equipment users to wear appropriate helmets.
  • Require vehicle manufacturers to adhere to rigorous safety standards.
  • Support research and development to improve vehicle safety and prevent injury through innovative roadway and recreation area design.
  • Promote the development, implementation, evaluation, and continuous improvement of advanced automatic crash notification and intelligent transportation technologies to optimize injured patient outcomes.
  • Encourage public education about the dangers of impaired, intoxicated, and distracted driving.
  • Adopt and enforce state legislation to prohibit alcohol-impaired driving, specifically mandating that: a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 g/dL is evidence of driving while impaired; a BAC of 0.05 g/dL is presumptive evidence of impaired driving; and any measurable level of BAC while driving shall be illegal in persons younger than the legal drinking age in each state.
  • Adopt and enforce state legislation to prohibit driving while impaired by other intoxicating substances.
  • Screen relevant patients for misuse of alcohol and other substances and offer referrals and treatment when indicated.
  • Adopt and enforce state legislation to prohibit driving while distracted by handheld electronic devices or other activities.
  • Develop innovative technologies that detect driver impairment and reduce driver distraction from safely operating motor vehicles.

* Motorized recreational vehicles include hoverboards, scooters, mopeds, mini-bikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATV), go-karts, snowmobiles, boats, jet skis, and other similar vehicles.

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PDF Icon Motor Vehicle Safety September 2021
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