Jose R. Santana Jr., MD, MPH


Medical Staff, Baycare Medical Group, Inc., Clearwater, FL


Serving as a national spokesperson for the “America Buckles Up Children” campaign allows Dr. Santana to pursue his long-standing interest in addressing traffic safety within the Hispanic community. He continues to participate in diverse media campaigns to raise Hispanic traffic safety awareness. Most recently Dr. Santana was successfully nominated by the National Hispanic Medical Association to serve on the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Elderly Drivers Project. This AMA committee is currently developing national guidelines for physician roles in assessing elderly driving.

After growing up in the Bronx, New York City, and Puerto Rico, Dr. Santana completed undergraduate studies at Cornell University and the University of London, Queen Mary College. He received his medical degree in 1994 from Stanford University School of Medicine, and completed an internal medicine residency at Yale New Haven Hospital in 1997. He completed a chief medical residency at the Hospital of St. Raphael, Yale Medical School in 1998. He received his M.P.H. from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1999 as a CFHU Fellow.




A National Traffic Safety Campaign For Hispanics


Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Hispanics through the age of 24, and are the second leading cause of death for ages 25-44.  They are the third leading cause of death for Hispanics of all ages (Monthly Vital Statistics Report for 1995, CDC, 1997).  This project’s purpose is to assist the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) promote its “Buckle Up America” campaign throughout Hispanic communities.  The aim is to collaborate with Hispanic community organizations to develop and implement culturally appropriate initiatives promoting safer traffic behaviors.


A successful campaign required initially the identification of organizations that had a presence in Hispanic communities throughout the United States.  Thus the decision was to seek partnerships with national organizations representing religious sectors, health providers, and the media.  Once these were identified the next step required educating the organizational leadership so that traffic safety, and the “Buckle Up America” campaign in particular, became a key component of their agenda.  This practicum requires continuing to work closely with these organizations, as they assume an active role in developing culturally appropriate material that will be used to enlist the support and participation of their membership.  Finally, the materials developed will be available and widely used during the November 1999 “Buckle Up America” campaign.


After much debate and working with diverse Hispanic leaders, “Ponte El Cinturón De Seguridad” became the official Spanish slogan for the November 1999 “Buckle Up America” campaign.

These efforts led to a partnership with the National Hispanic Religious Partnership for Community Health, an organization of nearly 1200 Spanish-language churches.  This organization will encourage its many congregations to include traffic safety messages as part of their sermons during the November 1999 “Buckle Up America” campaign.  The churches will also display campaign material.

NHTSA and the National Hispanic Medical Association, serving over 16,000 physicians, created a partnership where NHMA would develop a Public Service Announcement to run during the November campaign on Univisión, the largest U.S. based Spanish television network.  Additionally, a newly created Fellowship will support further training of NHMA physicians on traffic safety issues.

Hispanic-Link, a newspaper syndicate serving over 3 million readers, will provide increased coverage during the upcoming campaign.  This practicum includes a traffic safety article provided to Hispanic-Link for printing during the campaign.


Traffic injuries remain minimally recognized as a major public health challenge within Hispanic communities.  This practicum highlights efforts to increase awareness and develop a successful Hispanic traffic safety campaign.

A key component in a successful Hispanic traffic safety campaign consists of the recognition that campaign material reflect not merely a linguistic translation, but must incorporate diverse cultural values in order to be effective.  By assisting NHTSA to work early on with several organizations, this project lays the groundwork to inspire community participation and ownership of traffic safety as a major public health challenge for Hispanics throughout the United States.

Faculty Preceptors:

Sue Gorcowski, Director, Office of Communications and Outreach National Highway Traffic Safety Administration