Sunday, October 23, 2011

City of LA 2009 Fatal Crashes in a Heartbreaking Map

"221 records were mapped". That's how the Transportation Injury Mapping System's (TIMS) SWITRS GIS Map described the work it had done for me in a few seconds, mapping the City of Los Angeles' fatal crashes in the year 2009. From there my eye moved to the map itself. Keep in mind that some crashes have more than one fatality:

Los Angeles' 2009 Fatal Crashes on a TIMS SWITRS GIS Map. Click for a larger view. 2009 is currently the most recent year for which data are available.

TIMS is a project put together by the University of California Berkeley. SWITRS is the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, managed by the California Highway Patrol. This amazing system, which anyone can create a free account to use, can be queried for more than just fatal crashes:

Collision Factors in the TIMS SWITRS GIS Map

However, I'm always drawn to the worst crashes. The tragic events that are so common, we've kind of tuned them out as a society, or written them off as a cost of doing business, of the wonderful "progress" that motor vehicles have brought us.

The summary statistics button is useful as well. In this case 37% of the fatal crashes involved a pedestrian and 2% involved a bicycle. Tragically, these modes of transportation suffer from risks that they do not impose on others.

Summary Statistics in the TIMS SWITRS GIS Map

I should note that the University had its lawyers put some disclaimers on the data, for example:

"The information accessed though this website may contain mistakes, outdated information, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and other incorrect information. The User assumes any and all risks, of whatever nature, in relying upon this information." 

Disclaimers aside, this tool can be quite valuable. If we know where the fatal crashes are happening, we can do something about them. At least, one would hope, for the sake of those who have died, and those we can still save.

If you live in California, try mapping this for your city or county and showing it to someone. Feel free to post a comment or send me an email if you need help. If you live out of state, try FARS.

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