While most of the time our daily commute will go off without any event, we all know that driving can be a risky business. There are many things we do to prepare in case of incident: picking a suitable insurance policy, keeping up with vehicle maintenance, and making sure we buckle our seatbelt every time we’re in the vehicle.
In the world of today, we have more access to information and technology than ever before, and this access will only continue to increase. With this in mind, let’s take a look at how information gathering technology is also helping to make the road safer.
What’s In Our Information Toolbox?
One simple tool that can help us prepare for our time on the road is provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety (http://www.ots.ca.gov). Here we find a useful tool for learning about collision statistics in your area, as well as comparing that information to other areas.
How Does it Work?
OTS gathers the data, compiles, and puts it into a simple-to-read chart. This chart includes information on total number of fatalities and injuries for various collision types, as well as total DUI arrests.
Even more useful than these raw numbers are the OTS rankings included in the table. The OTS ranking takes areas with similar population size and groups them together to create an overall ranking for these similarly populated areas. These rankings can be used to compare your area to other areas and see which types of hazards might be more prevalent where you live.
Putting Our Tools to Work
Let’s look at these statistic for Richmond. In 2016, Richmond had a total of 637 fatalities or injuries due to vehicle collisions. This put Richmond at a ranking of 30 out of a total 58 locations with similar population size in California, or about average.
While Richmond is performing around average for vehicle safety, there are other areas that highlight some issues. For example, there were a total of 101 victims killed and injured that year in collisions that had alcohol involved, placing it 6th out of 58 for its ranking in this category. On the other hand, Richmond ranked 38th out of 58 for fatalities and injuries from speed related collisions. This tells us that it had more alcohol-related incidents, but less speed-related incidents than other cities of the same size for this year.
We can also compare this data to previous years to see if these are consistent trends or just an unusual year. If we go back to 2015, we see that Richmond was ranked 34/57 for alcohol related fatalities and injuries, and in 2014 was ranked 23/57. We can see there isn’t a consistent year-to-year trend with these numbers. However, when looking at speed-related fatalities and injuries, Richmond is consistently below average on the rankings in previous years.
Richmond also placed above average in 2016 for injuries and fatalities in several other categories, such as collisions involving motorcycles, pedestrians under the age of 15, and nighttime collisions (between 9pm and 2:59am).
Practical Application: Making Our Roads Safer for Everyone
This information can be useful in multiple ways: it helps government agencies and police make regulatory changes, and helps you know what you may encounter on the road.
As a practical example, cities may look to see if lower speed limits are necessary where kids might be around, or use this information to decide where and how frequently DUI checkpoints should be set up. And for us personally, we can take from this a simple reminder to make sure we drive the speed limit in school zones and neighborhoods where we’ll see children more often, or to be sure to check blind spots for motorcycles on the road.
While we never know exactly what we’ll encounter on the road, we can certainly always help prepare ourselves to be extra vigilant. Armed with this knowledge, we can only help make our roads safer for everyone.