Traffic fatalities in the U.S. jumped 7.2% to 35,092 last year, the sharpest increase in about 50 years. Yesterday the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) released final 2015 data on vehicle crashes in the United States. The Department of Transportation (DOT), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the White House also issued an unprecedented call to action asking for help analyzing fatality data to find ways to prevent these tragedies:
Despite decades of safety improvements, far too many people are killed on our nation’s roads every year. Solving this problem will take teamwork, so we’re issuing a call to action and asking researchers, safety experts, data scientists, and the public to analyze the fatality data and help find ways to prevent these tragedies. — U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx
Responding to this call, we created the map below to show where fatal crashes have occurred over the last five years. Enter your address and the destination of your commute to see fatal crashes that occurred along your route between 2011 and 2015. Toggle between additional information, such as alcohol, excessive speeding, cyclists, or pedestrians involved and compare the differences between the years.
A dataset of this size can be highly valuable for traffic safety campaigns, but it is only as good as its initial source. As with many aggregated government open datasets, the data collection and reporting practices of local police departments are key to maintaining a high-quality dataset. Huge jumps in numbers must be met with reservation.
Government agencies generate a lot of data. By opening up their datasets they enable a wide range of stakeholders, from nonprofits to companies like Mapbox, to develop innovative applications and services for the public.