This is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Transportation's blog. See the original post here.
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 releasing an 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.
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:
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. These commitments include:
From his first day in office, the President has been a leading voice to ensure that the transformative power of data and technology is used to help address some of our toughest challenges. The journey toward zero deaths on our roads will be a long one, but data will provide the guiding lights to take us there.
DOT is aggressively seeking ways to improve safety on the roads. From our work with the auto industry to improve vehicle safety, to new solutions to behavioral challenges like drunk, drugged, distracted and drowsy driving, we know we need to find novel solutions to old challenges.
We’re also looking to accelerate technologies that may make driving safer, including connected and highly automated vehicles.
But we need your help, too! Data Science is a team sport.
We are calling on data scientists, public health experts, students and researchers—even if you have never thought about road safety before—to dive in to these data and help answer these important questions, especially on tough issues like pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities.
We are excited to have you engaged and look forward to hearing from you.
DJ Patil is the Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy and Chief Data Scientist in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Dr. Mark Rosekind is the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.