APHA's Mighty Fine addressing attendees at the Safe States Alliance annual meeting Photo by www.atlantastudios.com.

When it comes to following traffic safety laws, Jeffery Michael, associate administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, contends that people “aren’t changing their behaviors because they are afraid of a fine. They are changing their behaviors because the law is a statement of community expectations.”

Enforcement of these laws through campaigns such as “Click it or Ticket” is vitally important to the public’s health, as motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death for those ages 1-34.

But it’s not enough to depend on the efficacy of the laws alone.

Grant Baldwin, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control says it’s about “making safety a part of our culture, our norm and a part of who we are.”

Speaking to a group of fellow health and safety advocates at the 2012 Joint Annual Meeting, hosted this week in Atlanta, Ga., by the Safe States Alliance and CDC, Baldwin reminded his colleagues that the public health community is vital to shaping that culture.

Through the theme “Shaping the Path to Safety,” the meeting recognized the importance of collaboration in reducing the burden of injuries in the U.S. It also provided attendees a glimpse into other opportunities for strengthening their collaboration in the future.

John Lundell, an APHA member, awarded APHA with Safe States Alliance’s “Partner of the Year” for furthering the mission of the alliance, which is to serve as the national voice in support of state and local injury and violence prevention professionals engaged in building a safer, healthier America. Mighty Fine, a public health analyst at APHA, accepted the award on behalf of the Association.

Mighty Fine contributed to this article.