Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Traffic Deaths Are Up- DOT Asks The Public To Investigate

The U.S. Department of Transportation is asking for big data help after 2015 numbers released this week showed that traffic deaths were up 7.2 percent last year, the largest annual increase in half a century. Reversing a recent historical trend that saw fatalities decreasing every year, 35,092 people died while walking, biking and driving on U.S. streets in 2015. The department released the data three months early, along with a call to action, asking nonprofits, tech companies and citizens to help interpret the data and use it to prevent future deaths.

“What we’re ultimately looking for is getting more people engaged in the data … matching this with other publicly available data, or data that the private sector might be willing to make available, to dive in and to tell these stories,” Bryan Thomas, communications director for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told FedScoop. “It’s a very, very rich data set, there’s a lot of information there. … Our own ability is, frankly, limited to investigate all of the questions that you might have of it. And so we want to get the public really diving in as well.”
The call to action includes several questions DOT thinks are worth exploring. “How might improving economic conditions around the country change how Americans are getting around?” it asks. “How might climate change increase https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/traffic-deaths-increase-2015-usdot-help-datathe risk of fatal crashes in a community?” At least four private firms, including Waze, have already committed to release additional traffic data or to utilize DOT’s data to inform the public. Mapping platform Mapbox, for example, will launch an app that shows crashes over the past five years overlaid on a user’s commute, showing contributing factors like alcohol use or speeding.
One trend the data shows clearly is that while traffic deaths rose for nearly all types of road users, pedestrians and bicyclists fared particularly poorly. According to Fortune, even though the number of cyclists injured in traffic collisions dropped 10 percent to 45,000 people in 2015, more of those involved fatalities. Cyclist deaths increased 12.2 percent to 818 people last year, the highest level since 1995. Pedestrian fatalities increased 9.5 percent to 5,376, the highest since 1996.
Read the rest of the story here.

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