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The Hidden Health Costs of Transportation


Our past and current paradigm of transportation investment has created a transportation system that is focused on road building and the private auto. This system has given our country an unprecedented level of individual mobility and facilitated economic growth from coast to coast.

As important as these benefits are, they have come at a high price—costs to our environment and the health of our communities.U.S. residents—especially our children—are more obese and overweight than ever before due in part to sedentary lifestyles and the lack of opportunity for everyday physical activity. Traffic crashes cause close to 40,000 deaths a year, and exposure to air pollution from traffic results in high rates of asthma and respiratory illness. These negative outcomes have the largest effect on those who are most vulnerable—the elderly, children, and traditionally underserved and disadvantaged (low income and non-white/ethnicminority) communities—themost, through greater adverse health impacts and through a relative lack of access to economic, recreational, and social opportunities.

Primary Toolkit:

Healthy Community Design Toolkit

Keyword Area:

Active Living, Community Design, Land Use, Physical Activity, Planning, Traffic Safety, Transportation Planning, Zoning


Institutional Author:






The NACCHO Toolbox is a repository of available resources to help local public health practitioners. Tools are produced by local, state, and federal agencies, as well as academic institutions and other stakeholders. The contents of this Toolbox are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect any official recommendations of NACCHO. NACCHO makes no express or implied warranty with respect to the contents and disclaims liability for any damages arising from or connected to the use of the material in this Toolbox.