If these numbers could talk, what would we learn?

The website of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security has posted some interesting county-by-county comparisons of motor vehicle accidents. For example, Montgomery County reported the state's highest number of deer crashes every year from 2004 to 2013. Other counties have come close, but none has surpassed. What's more, the number of crashes in Montgomery County has increased during the same period: 252 in 2004 and 413 in 2013.

Bradley County's deer accident data does not show the same kind of trend, though. Our county logged 61 accidents in 2004 and 78 in 2013, but the years between are a series of peaks and valleys, showing no discernible trend, inscrutable without more context.

The same is true of Bradley County's truck accident data. TDOS shows 177 crashes in 2004, with the total at a much lower 134 in 2013, but the range in between includes a low of 89 in 2009 and a high of 190 in 2006. Overall improvement is always a good thing, but these are just numbers: Without looking at what happened during those years, if there was a significant weather event in 2006 that led to more crashes, or a particularly effective safety campaign that gave us the 2009 low, we cannot understand the jumps and falls in the data.

It may prove interesting to compare the truck accident numbers to road construction projects. Tennessee is not immune from the overall infrastructure issues plaguing the country. Perhaps reconstruction of highways, including overpasses, slowed everyone down in 2009 -- perhaps multiple construction projects caused stoppages and traffic interruptions, made the roads that much more dangerous in 2006.

Why are we bringing this up? We'll explain in our next post.

Source: Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Crash Data

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