In one of the most compelling applications of data visualization we’ve yet seen, a data mapping firm has used police data to produce a map of road traffic casualties in Great Britain between 2000 and 2010, broken down by class of user, age and severity of incident. The interactive map is embedded at the bottom of this article. If you want to see what has been happening on the road you travel on over the past 10 years this is the place to look.
The map was compiled using 10 year's worth of the Department for Transports STATS19 - the annual reported road casualty statistics for Great Britain, these record everthing from reported minor injuries through to deaths on the roads and although not every minor injury will make it in to the statistics any incident involving injury that was reported to the police will be there.
The effect is stunning – not only because it shows in a clear, graphic form data that can often be hidden away in official statistical spreadsheets, but also because it highlights the sheer scale of carnage on Britain’s roads in the first decade of this century.
During that period, 32,995 people have been killed in road traffic incidents, a shade under the average attendance at FA Premier League football matches this season; almost 3 million people have been injured, equivalent to one in 20 of the population.
The searchable and zoomable interactive map has been produced by transport data mapping specialists ITO World and is based on police dataset Stats19, which is published by the Economic and Social Data Service.
Like us, the first thing you’ll probably want to do is zoom in on where you live or work and see how the recorded casualties compare to your own recall of incidents in the area; we did find that a couple of incidents we know took place in Bath don’t appear on the map, although whether that’s due to an omission in the dataset or a glitch in the software is impossible to say.
Some common themes do emerge, wherever you live. Town and city centres, where traffic tends to move more slowly and there are increased numbers of people walking or on bikes, see a concentration of fatalities among pedestrians and cyclists; in the capital, shown in the picture above, green squares – used to denote a cyclist who has lost their life – dominate in the Square Mile of the City of London itself and the area immediately surrounding it, while in the West End, fatalities are most likely to be pedestrians.
There are of course practical implications for the data, since they can help highlight specific locations or routes where there is a particularly high concentration of casualties, whether killed, seriously injured or slightly injured; it should be borne in mind though that other factors may be involved – a busy road will typically attract a higher number of incidents than a quieter one, unless the latter is particularly hazardous.
The data visualization has been published ahead of tomorrow’s world day of remembrance for road traffic victims. In making it available, ITO have said "The information provided within these maps should not be used to identify the individuals concerned," and we'd ask you to bear that in mind when it comes to making any comments.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.