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November 24, 2011 8:57 AM   Subscribe

Nearly a decade of US road accident casualties mapped by location across America from ITO World via the Guardian (they have also done the UK)
posted by fearfulsymmetry (31 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
I knew it! Nobody east of the Mississippi knows how to drive. I only had anecdata before, now I have statistics!
posted by hippybear at 9:15 AM on November 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


I wish there were an option to see it normalized by population and also by traffic density. As is it's hard to meaningfully compare different areas.

It's kind of morbid, but you can tell how good a city's public transit system is by the vehicle occupant:pedestrian fatality ratio. New York in particular and especially Manhattan has far more pedestrian than vehicle occupant fatalities.
posted by jedicus at 9:34 AM on November 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


At larger zoom levels, this is effectively just a map of population density and highways. Wouldn't it be more interesting to see the data adjusted for population or total vehicular traffic or something, so we could see which areas were more dangerous?
posted by pete_22 at 9:35 AM on November 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


It would be interesting, and probably sad, if the map marked which of these involved impaired/intoxicated drivers.
posted by PhillC at 9:36 AM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is interesting, but it's sort of a data overload. Too much to really take away anything. Unless you want to point out that there is an unacceptable number of traffic casualties in the US, then yeah, no argument from me.

Just scanning it, I wondered what's up with Lexington, KY? I-64 from Lexington to Charleston, WV appears particularly dangerous, as does I-75 from Lexington to Knoxville. But it could be just quirk in the way the data is presented. Are these routes known to be dangerous?
posted by mcmile at 9:39 AM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


jedicus beat me to it. But what's the connection between public transit and pedestrian/vehicle occupant fatalities? I would think it's just density, because there are more pedestrians and traffic moves slower. Cars have to be going faster to kill their occupants than to kill pedestrians, right? Even West LA looks to have a relatively high ratio.
posted by pete_22 at 9:42 AM on November 24, 2011


Zooming in on my state and looking around, the thing that jumps out at me is the number of fatalities around college towns, even relatively small ones.
posted by randomkeystrike at 9:54 AM on November 24, 2011


The population density issue is important when making comparisons between distant jurisdictions. However, I think this map is very useful for more local planners. I.e. where in my area of responsibility do I need to make improvements? Or for citizen groups trying to advocate for improvements.
posted by postel's law at 10:03 AM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


mcmile: "I-64 from Lexington to Charleston, WV appears particularly dangerous"

The portions of I-64 in Virginia are known as being particularly dangerous, so this doesn't surprise me terribly much. I used to drive ~20 miles a day on 64 for my commute, and I swear there was a bad accident on that short stretch every other day.

The road has a nasty combination of looooong straight sections followed by sharp curves, some of the shortest merge areas I've ever seen, and a surprising absence of guardrails in many locations. Also, enforcement of the speed limit was spotty at best. I-81 is also pretty bad in many of these regards, but is at least moderately interesting to drive on. I-64 between Richmond and Norfolk is flat, straight, and has almost no visual landmarks along the way.

It's not at all surprising that many drivers fall asleep at the wheel, and the Virginia governor's plan to close the rest areas to help close the budget deficit was reckless, insane, and didn't actually save any money. It was a cheap campaign potshot, but Bob McDonnell's promise to reopen the rest areas was a very good thing.
posted by schmod at 10:21 AM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is a single vehicle fatality marker on Isle Royale. Considering that Isle Royale is located in the middle of Lake Superior and has banned all wheeled transport, I wonder what this means. Boat? Snowmobile? Seaplane?
posted by Winnemac at 10:33 AM on November 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think this is actually pretty useful, at least for rhetorical purposes. If you zoom all the way out it makes America look like a bloody killing field. Which it actually is. And it's kind of like: why worry so much about terrorism when you're so much more likely to be killed in a car accident?
posted by delmoi at 10:34 AM on November 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


The human carnage wrought by cars most people seem to accept as normal. The future will look back on us as primitive and backward.
posted by stbalbach at 10:37 AM on November 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


I wish each of these little icons were clickable and that clicking the icon told me the story of each person. They deserve to be more than just data.
posted by rh at 10:48 AM on November 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


It would be more interesting to me to normalize it by population density - which areas have an above-average death rate? Maybe I'll do that this weekend.
posted by desjardins at 11:04 AM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I knew it! There aren't any people west of the Mississippi!
posted by FatherDagon at 11:16 AM on November 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


rh - I wish each of these little icons were clickable and that clicking the icon told me the story of each person. They deserve to be more than just data.

Nthing this. Also it seems like some of the squares block other squares and you can't flip between them.

Most of all though, definitely needs to have an option to adjust for population.
posted by Defenestrator at 11:19 AM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh whoah, I just noticed that purple means the vehicle occupant was killed and, as you can tell by zooming out, the majority of these are purple.

Didn't realize that was the case.
posted by Defenestrator at 11:22 AM on November 24, 2011


Atlanta, man. Atlanta. Drive 80 and feel like you're a centenarian on a hoveround.
posted by cashman at 11:33 AM on November 24, 2011


Yeah, the map doesn't really tell you anything beyond overal population density, as far as I can tell. Granted, I'm only actually all that interested in pedestrian casualties (being, you know, an obligate pedestrian), but I found the tables in this DOT report [PDF] much more informative (if a bit outdated—the study dates to 2003).

Or not "informative" as such—table 23 shows that, of the ten cities with the highest pedestrian mortality rates, five of them are in Central/South Florida, which I think anybody who's lived there could have told you.

Oh whoah, I just noticed that purple means the vehicle occupant …

That also includes the drivers, though, doesn't it?
posted by wreckingball at 11:37 AM on November 24, 2011


My best friend's brother was hit by a car and killed one night just about a mile from where I live now - the first thing I did was look for him on the (UK) map - there he is. Age and date.

.
posted by cardamine at 1:08 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just scanning it, I wondered what's up with Lexington, KY? I-64 from Lexington to Charleston, WV appears particularly dangerous, as does I-75 from Lexington to Knoxville. But it could be just quirk in the way the data is presented. Are these routes known to be dangerous?

I've driven that stretch a number of times on my way to Virginia and back (there's something fun hopping on 64 and riding it from St. Louis to C'ville). While there seems to be a persistent amount of road construction along that stretch, it's surprising that it's being spotted as dangerous. The worse I really had to deal with a surprising number of awful rain and thunderstorms. I had the luck to drive through one of the worst downpours in Lexington's history. It was as if someone had taken a fire hose and aimed it at my windshield. It was virtually impossible to drive forward at any speed, or so I thought, until the eighteen wheeler flew past me, hell bent on either making his delivery or crashing through the gates of hell.
posted by Atreides at 1:41 PM on November 24, 2011


There is a single vehicle fatality marker on Isle Royale. Considering that Isle Royale is located in the middle of Lake Superior and has banned all wheeled transport, I wonder what this means.

I couldn't find a single relevant article in Google News Archive, so I wonder if it's spurious (i.e. misplaced somehow). Usually you do read about snowmobile and other accidents when they're fatal.
posted by dhartung at 1:49 PM on November 24, 2011


Saw this last night on boingboing and went looking to see if my sister's death in 2007(by drunk driver) was on there, and it was there. Looks like someone else died nearby 2 years earlier. Kind of eery.

Now make a map of all the different people killed by terror attacks and put them side by side and show the cost we spend on road safety vs terrorism and dollar/death.
posted by symbioid at 2:46 PM on November 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Road deaths are actually declining, rather than increasing, in developed countries despite the higher numbers of cars on the road. 51,093 people died in traffic accidents in the USA in 1979, compared to 33,808 in 2009 for example. Reductions have been greater in other developed countries though - Britain's toll was 7,000 in 1934 when only 1,500,000 registered vehicles were on the road and nearly 8,000 in 1966 but fell to 2,222 in 2009, the lowest since records began in 1926. Better driver education, law enforcement and road design can make a big difference - the toll in Victoria in Australia has halved since 1990 due to an active enforcement and safety campaign. Why money for this should be diverted from fighting terrorism is a mystery, you might as well argue that as funding for arts and spending on Apple computers doesn't save any lives at all, all that money should be dedicated to road safety instead.
posted by joannemullen at 3:42 PM on November 24, 2011


joannemullen, presumably because money spent on terrorism prevention is money spent to save lives. The argument is, assuming that saving lives in the goal to the spending, that the money would save more lives if spent on road safety, vehicle safety, driver education, etc.

While that makes sense to me if the only goal of terrorism prevention was to save lives, that isn't the case.
posted by Defenestrator at 7:25 PM on November 24, 2011


I was looking around the area where I grew up out of pure curiosity and, without looking for it, came across the marker of a childhood friend I lost a couple years ago, recognizable as such by the unique locale as well as the age and year. I wasn't looking for that marker in particular because I never thought of him as a statistical datum.

Just a weird little moment there for me. Carry on.
posted by triceryclops at 8:41 PM on November 24, 2011


Terrorism isn't just about the deaths. It's about the terror and paralysis that it brings.
posted by gjc at 9:44 PM on November 24, 2011


I was just having a look at the UK one, and noticed that whilst injuries are generally concentrated around intersections (as I had expected), deaths aren't. Is anyone else seeing something similar, or was it just the part of Northhampton that I was looking at.

Also, deaths don't seem to coincide with a concentration of injuries, another thing I would have expected. (Or maybe it's just that the person icon covers up the triangles and circles.)
posted by kjs4 at 10:46 PM on November 24, 2011


Well if we want to stop the terror and paralysis of terrorism, maybe we could stop making such a big fucking deal out of it (well like we did for the first 3/4 of the past decade)... Anyways, forget the terror thing and lets get back on that car death shit.
posted by symbioid at 8:15 AM on November 25, 2011


The road has a nasty combination of looooong straight sections followed by sharp curves, some of the shortest merge areas I've ever seen...

Sounds like most of I-89 in Vermont. Which, admittedly, is easily recognizable by the trail of deaths between what I'd guess are exits 4 through 11.
posted by maryr at 8:42 AM on November 25, 2011


FYI, bicycle accidents are often under-reported. I know of a fatal bike/dump truck accident in my town (in the USA) 5 or so years ago that is not on the map; I suspect it's not the only one.

More generally (and speaking here not just about cyclists), since each of these markers is tied to a specific location and human life, I think we can say that the figure posted is a minimum figure - any error is likely in the direction of greater, rather than smaller, loss of life.
posted by richyoung at 10:39 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


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