The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has been featured in a recent article on data visualization because of the amazingly detailed accident map they’ve made available on the Internet.
What does VDOT’s map show?
The map can show vehicular crash data from 2008 onwards all around the state. People using the map can search for accidents based on a number of different factors, such as the involvement of bikes or pedestrians, the nature of the roadway (e.g. hilly and curved vs. hilly and straight), whether it involved speeding, the weather at the time, and the surface conditions of the road (such as the presence of ice or debris).
A key reason the map is potentially useful is its ability to show patterns of crashes across the state. For example, people can search only for accidents involving fatalities and then have the map show where these happened all around Virginia. It can then be clear that some roadways in Virginia seem to have relatively more fatal crashes than others. People can also search for multiple factors combined (such as head-on collisions with incapacitating injuries that took place on roads classified as “rural interstate”).
Interpreting the data
There’s no denying that this map can further our understanding of traffic crashes across the state. It can also potentially improve public safety. For example, if people notice that a certain kind of road is getting a disproportionate rate of fatal crashes, maybe it’s a sign that the road itself needs to be improved in some way.
However, it isn’t always easy to interpret the data. For example, we may spot a number of different conditions on the road that could contribute to accidents. These include fog, ice and snow. We might also see that roads maintained by a certain jurisdiction have more problems. But when it comes to figuring out what caused an accident, to what extent can we attribute the collision to the road conditions? And how much did driver error or negligence play a role?
Usually driver behavior will be the main reason behind a crash, though the results of drivers’ poor choices may also be exacerbated by the surrounding conditions; for instance, a driver who exceeds the speed limit may be more likely to crash (and may get into a more serious crash) when the road is icy than when it’s dry.
When you work with a Virginia accident attorney after your collision, one kind of assistance you’ll receive is an analysis of what happened during the crash and what could have been the contributing factors. Getting a clearer picture of the accident is important in helping you determine how to move forward. Don’t hesitate to contact us to review what happened during your accident and discuss what you should do next.
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