Unless one is a police officer, traffic accident investigator, or traffic reporter, it’s difficult to know all of the dangerous and potentially deadly intersections and roadways throughout Maryland. In fact, it’s likely that no one person can really know the location of the majority of accident-prone areas across the state.
As Baltimore car, truck and motorcycle injury accident attorneys, even we are aware of just a fraction of the more dangerous intersections here in Baltimore, over in Gaithersburg and out in Washington, D.C. With all of the many and varied automobile and trucking-related traffic collisions that happen every year, only a computer database can really keep track of this information with any accuracy.
And so it was, until recently, that the average person could not know for certain if they were constantly exposing themselves and their families to danger by driving through a highly accident-prone area on the way to school, work or the movies. This has all changed with the advent of new, online traffic fatality mapping information offered by UK-based ITO World.
According to news articles, individuals can now see how safe (or dangerous) the steets they frequently drive on or cross as a pedestrian actually are. Since almost nobody stands at a street corner for hours each day to observe traffic collisions and pedestrian accidents, the database offered by ITO World let’s one decide if an obviously busy intersection is really a hazard to one’s health.
Using information compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), ITO World has taken the drudgery out of personally cross-referencing gigabytes of data found in the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (or FARS, for short) and other traffic-accident related websites. The result is a traffic accident charting and mapping system that some have described as “intuitive as Google Maps.”
To date, ITO World has developed accident data maps for both Great Britain and the United States — the data for the U.S. was taken from FARS and reportedly includes every fatal traffic collision from 2001 through 2009. Information provided on the mapping website includes the age and sex of each accident victim, whether the individual was operating a car, truck or motorcycle prior to the accident, or if the victim was walking or bicycling; the year of the fatality is also included in the displayed data.
To find out how dangerous a particular road, street or intersection may be, the user simply enters the name of a particular location, after which the system populates the mapped area with descriptive icons. According to one person who has used the system, the service is similar to a crime data mapping system that is being designed for the Baltimore area.
At the very least, if the system works as described, Maryland residents can get a better idea whether a busy stretch of roadway is (statistically) as dangerous as one might assume. Finding out which streets and crossroads are more prone to car and truck accidents might go a long way to reducing the number of traffic wrecks, and possibly fewer injuries and deaths.
It may seem a bit morbid to know that a certain street corner has been the scene of X-number of pedestrian deaths, but aside from those haunted by imagined ghosts waiting at a particular crosswalk, isn’t it better to know the accident history of an area than to become a permanent part of that history? We’ll see how this new service helps people, but anything that saves even one life from being lost in a senseless traffic collision is probably worth a look.
How Dangerous Is Your Street? Find Out With New Traffic Fatality Maps (video), SingularityHub.com, December 12, 2011
NCSA Data Resource Website — Fatality Analysis Reporting System