Federico Vaca, MD, MPH

  • Professor of Emergency Medicine and in the Child Study Center
  • Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs
  • Director, Developmental Neurocognitive Driving Simulation Research Center (DrivSim Lab)

Dr. Vaca is a Professor and Vice Chair of Faculty Affairs in Yale School of Medicine's Department of Emergency Medicine and he holds a secondary appointment in the Yale Child Study Center. Dr. Vaca previously served as a Medical Fellow for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in Washington, D.C. He serves on the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies’ Committee on Operator Education and Regulation, ANB30 and its Young Driver Subcommittee. Dr. Vaca was a recent Collaborating-Visiting Scholar at the NIH-Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD), Division of Intramural Population Health Research (DIPHR), Health Behavior Branch (HBB).

Dr. Vaca is a research and academic mentor to research fellows in the NIDA-funded K12 Mentored Clinical Scientists Development Program Award in Drug Abuse and Addiction and the Yale University Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program.

His research has focused on adolescent development and behaviors that influence the risk of motor vehicle crash morbidity and mortality as well as health disparities in injury and alcohol use disorders. Dr. Vaca has served on several national expert panels directed by the National Institutes of Health, National Academies of Science and the Transportation Research Board, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Safe States Alliance (formerly the State Territorial Injury Prevention Directors Association), and the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Dr. Vaca has served as member of the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors for the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine. He is also a Research Scientist member of the National Hispanic Science Network.

Dr. Vaca was recently awarded the 2013 American College of Emergency Physicians National Faculty Teaching Award.

Research interests
Accident Prevention; Adolescent; Behavioral Medicine; Emergency Medicine; Social Behavior; Motor Vehicles; Behavioral Research; Adolescent Development; Healthcare Disparities
Research summary

The focus of Dr. Vaca's scholarly work and research is to investigate and better understand the racial and ethnic disparities in traffic-related morbidity and mortality. Moreover, it is to study traffic safety in a cultural context with a sociological and public health perspective in order to identify behavioral determinant of risk and protection that would inform the development of effective community and clinical contact intervention strategies.

Specialized Terms: Adolescent; Alcohol; Behavioral; Injury; Injury Epidemiology; Intervention; Motor Vehicle; Pedestrian; Prevention; Trauma; Health Disparities

  • MPH, University of California at Los Angeles, 2002
  • MD, Creighton University School of Medicine, 1992
  • Vaca FE, Li K, Hingson R, Simons-Morton BG. Transitions in Riding With an Alcohol/Drug-Impaired Driver From Adolescence to Emerging Adulthood in the United States. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2016 Jan;77(1):77-85.
  • Simons-Morton B, Li K, Ehsani J, Vaca FE. Co-variability in Three Dimensions of Teenage Driving Risk Behavior: Impaired Driving, Risky and Unsafe Driving Behavior, and Secondary Task Engagement. Traffic Inj Prev. 2015 Oct 29:0.
  • Hawk KF, Vaca FE, D'Onofrio G. Reducing Fatal Opioid Overdose: Prevention, Treatment and Harm Reduction Strategies. Yale J Biol Med. 2015 Sep 3;88(3):235-45.
  • Li K, Simons-Morton BG, Vaca FE, Hingson R. Reciprocal Associations Between Parental Monitoring Knowledge and Impaired Driving in Adolescent Novice Drivers. Traffic Inj Prev. 2015;16(7):645-51.
  • Riera A, Ocasio A, Tiyyagura G, Krumeich L, Ragins K, Thomas A, Trevino S, Vaca FE. Latino caregiver experiences with asthma health communication. Qual Health Res. 2015 Jan;25(1):16-26.
  • Riera A, Ocasio A, Goncalves P, Krumeich L, Katz KH, Trevino S, Vaca FE. Findings from a community-based asthma education fair for Latino caregivers. J Asthma. 2015 Feb;52(1):71-80.
  • Vaca FE, Romano E, Fell JC. Female drivers increasingly involved in impaired driving crashes: actions to ameliorate the risk. Acad Emerg Med. 2014 Dec;21(12):1485-92.
  • Greenberg MR, Kane BG, Totten VY, Raukar NP, Moore EC, Sanson T, Barraco RD, Nguyen MC, Vaca FE. Injury due to mechanical falls: future directions in gender-specific surveillance, screening, and interventions in emergency department patients. Acad Emerg Med. 2014 Dec;21(12):1380-5.
  • Sethuraman KN, Marcolini EG, McCunn M, Hansoti B, Vaca FE, Napolitano LM. Gender-specific issues in traumatic injury and resuscitation: consensus-based recommendations for future research. Acad Emerg Med. 2014 Dec;21(12):1386-94.
  • Raukar NP, Zonfrillo MR, Kane K, Davenport M, Espinoza TR, Weiland J, Franco V, Vaca FE. Gender- and sex-specific sports-related injury research in emergency medicine: a consensus on future research direction and focused application. Acad Emerg Med. 2014 Dec;21(12):1370-9.
  • Chekijian S, Paul M, Kohl VP, Walker DM, Tomassoni AJ, Cone DC, Vaca FE. The global burden of road injury: its relevance to the emergency physician. Emerg Med Int. 2014;2014:139219.
  • Li K, Simons-Morton BG, Vaca FE, Hingson R. Association between riding with an impaired driver and driving while impaired. Pediatrics. 2014 Apr;133(4):620-6.
  • Riera A, Navas-Nazario A, Shabanova V, Vaca FE. The impact of limited English proficiency on asthma action plan use. J Asthma. 2014 Mar;51(2):178-84.
  • Vaca FE, Walthall JM, Ryan S, Moriarty-Daley A, Riera A, Crowley MJ, Mayes LC. Adolescent Balloon Analog Risk Task and Behaviors that Influence Risk of Motor Vehicle Crash Injury. Ann Adv Automot Med. 2013;57:77-88.
  • Fu J, Anderson CL, Dziura JD, Crowley MJ, Vaca FE. The impact of state level graduated driver licensing programs on rates of passenger restraint use and unlicensed driving in fatal crashes. Ann Adv Automot Med. 2013;57:89-98.
  • Vaca FE, Trevino S, Riera A, Meyer E, Anderson CL. Contextualizing exposures and experiences of behaviors that influence the risk of crash injury in Latino adolescent males. Ann Adv Automot Med, 2012 Oct;56:79-86
  • Fu J, Anderson CL, Dziura JD, Crowley MJ, Vaca FE. Young unlicensed drivers and passenger restraint use in US fatal crashes: Concern for risk spillover? Ann Adv Automot Med, 2012 Oct56:37-43
  • Chakravarthy B, Anderson CL, Ludlow J, Lotfipour S, Vaca FE. A Geographic Analysis of Collisions Involving Child Pedestrians in a Large Southern California County, Traffic Inj Prev. 2012 Mar;13(2):193-8.
  • Vaca FE, Anderson CL, Crash Injury Risk Behavior in Adolescent Latino Males: The Power of Friends and Relational Connections, Ann Adv Automot Med, 2011 Oct;55:41-50
  • Vaca FE, Winn D, Anderson CL, Kim D, Arcila M. 6 Month Follow-up of Computerized Alcohol Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment in the Emergency Department. Subst Abuse. 2011; 32(3):144-52.
  • Landman AB, Phipps MS, Jawin K, Bolton L, Van Gelder CM, Kamin R, Teel B, Vaca FE. Helmet Use in Connecticut Motorcycle Crashes: A State without a Universal Helmet Law, Connecticut Medicine, 2011 May;75(5):261-8.
  • Vaca FE, Anderson CL, Hayes-Bautista D. The Latino Adolescent Male Mortality Peak Revisited: Attribution of Homicide and Motor Vehicle Crash Fatality. Inj Prev. Dec 5. 2010
  • Vaca FE, Winn D, Anderson CL, Kim D, Arcila M. Feasibility of Emergency Department Bilingual Computerized Alcohol Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment. Subst Abuse. 2010 Oct;31(4):264-9.
  • Tsai V, Anderson CL, Vaca F. Alcohol Involvement Among Young Female Drivers in US Fatal Crashes: Unfavorable Trends. Inj Prev. 2010 Feb;16(1):17-20.
  • Vaca F, Anderson C, US Motor Vehicle Fatality Trends in Young Latino Males, Ann Adv Automot Med, 2009 Oct; (53):77-82
  • Board of Scientific Counselors
  • National Faculty Teaching Award
  • AAMC, Humanism in Medicine Award
  • National Honorary Society in Public Health
  • California State Traffic Safety Achievement Award
  • Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine
  • Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine
  • Scientific Review Panel Member, NIH / Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD), Consortium for Research on Pediatric Trauma and Injury Prevention
  • Appointments and Promotions Committee - Yale University School of Medicine
  • Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Committee on Operator Education and Regulation, ANB30
  • Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Committee on Simulation and Measurement of Vehicle and Operator Performance, AND30