Diffusing innovative road safety practice: A social network approach to identifying opinion leading U.S. cities


Objective: This study sought to identify opinion-leading U.S. cities in the realm of safe transportation systems by surveying road safety professionals and asking them to identify places that served as models for road safety.

Methods: Using a purposive sampling methodology, we surveyed professionals employed in road safety–related professions (e.g., transportation engineering, planning, public health, law enforcement, and emergency response). Using 183 professionals’ complete responses, we carried out social network analysis to both describe the structure of intermunicipal advice-seeking patterns among road safety professionals and identify those municipalities with relatively high degrees of influence.

Results: We discovered a large intermunicipal monitoring network related to improving road user safety. Half of the network ties (50.4%) crossed regional U.S. census boundaries. Social network statistics informed the identification of 7 opinion-leader and 4 boundary-spanning municipalities.

Conclusions: This study indicated a large intermunicipal monitoring network, half of which crossed regional boundaries. Road safety professionals have formed a country-spanning example-following network on the topic of improving road user safety in the United States. Researchers and intervention teams can tap into this network to accelerate the uptake and spread of evidence-based road safety practices.

LaJeunesse, Seth
Heiny, Stephen
Evenson, Kelly R.
Fiedler, Lisa M.
Cooper, Jill F.
Publication date: 
January 29, 2019
Publication type: 
Journal Article