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Leading the way to safer roads

Humphrey School researchers map roadway fatalities

Americans take precautions to keep their families safe in a number of ways. Researchers at the Humphrey School developed a tool that allows users to play a part in their safety on the road. SafeRoadMaps.org is an online, searchable map that immediately identifies the location of crashes, thereby allowing motorists to steer clear of the most dangerous portions of the road.

SafeRoadMaps.org was created by the Humphrey School's Center for Excellent in Rural Safety (CERS) in 2008. "The website allows users to see where traffic fatalities have occurred in their own communities and also identify other hot spots where deaths have occurred," says Lee Munnich, CERS director.

The newest version of SafeRoadMaps.org offers several enhancements over the original. The website now allows users to enter a zip code, municipality name, or street address and immediately see a map or satellite image of all the road fatalities that have occurred in the chosen area over the past five years.

"This is about making sure drivers are informed and safe and that policymakers have a user-friendly tool to guide their safety-related decisions," says Munnich.

Details about each crash also are available, such as whether the driver was wearing a seatbelt, drinking, or speeding. The tool also notes which life-saving public policies, such as strong seat belt laws, are employed in the chosen area.

The SafeRoadMaps tool is used in a variety of ways to educate the public about road fatalities. For example, driver's education leaders have advocated use of the map as a means to teach new drivers the importance of following the rules of the road. Drivers are exploring their most common routes and being educated about the need to take sensible precautions. Finally, road safety officials are using the tool to better pinpoint where policy, structural, and traffic management adjustments are most needed.

"We hope that SafeRoadMaps raises awareness about the serious problem of road safety in rural areas and that this awareness will lead to changes in behavior and policies that will reduce rural traffic deaths in the future," says Munnich.

For more information, visit SafeRoadMaps.org.

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