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Say what?! U. S. Department of Transportation asks: ‘How might climate change increase the risk of fatal crashes in a community?’ 

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https://www.transportation.gov/fastlane/2015-traffic-fatalities-data-has-just-been-released-call-action-download-and-analyze

2015 Traffic Fatalities Data Has Just Been Released: A Call to Action to Download and Analyze

Posted by DJ Patil, Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy and Chief Data Scientist in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Dr. Mark Rosekind, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

This post is cross-posted at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy blog.

35,092.

That is the number of people who died on our nation’s highways in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2015. Your neighbor driving to work. Your niece walking to the park. Your brother biking home. Every day, nearly 100 people die from vehicle-related accidents.

Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation is releasingan open data set that contains detailed, anonymized information about each of these tragic incidents. As the new data being released show, and as DOT reported earlier this summer, 2015 showed a marked increase in traffic fatalities nationwide. 

Traffic fatalities graphic 1

To be precise, 7.2% more people died in traffic-related accidents in 2015 than in 2014. This unfortunate data point breaks a recent historical trend of fewer deaths occurring per year.

Under the leadership of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, we’re doing two things differently this year.

One: We’re publishing the data through NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) three months earlier than last year. 

Two: We’re directly soliciting your help to better understand what these data are telling us. Whether you’re a non-profit, a tech company, or just a curious citizen wanting to contribute to the conversation in your local community, we want you to jump in and help us understand what the data are telling us.

Some key questions worth exploring:

  • How might improving economic conditions around the country change how Americans are getting around? What models can we develop to identify communities that might be at a higher risk for fatal crashes?
  • How might climate change increase the risk of fatal crashes in a community? 
  • How might we use studies of attitudes toward speeding, distracted driving, and seat belt use to better target marketing and behavioral change campaigns?
  • How might we monitor public health indicators and behavior risk indicators to target communities that might have a high prevalence of behaviors linked with fatal crashes (drinking, drug use/addiction, etc.)? What countermeasures should we create to address these issues?

A number of private sector firms and educational institutions have already committed to answer this call to action. They’re doing this though a number of mechanisms: by combining these new data with their own, hosting hackathons, and launching new analytical platforms. 

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