Number of traffic accidents, number of injuries and fatalities resulting from traffic accidents, number of traffic accidents involving pedestrians or cyclists
Traffic accidents refer to incidents of vehicular crashes reported to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). Accidents include collisions between vehicles as well as incidents where property, pedestrians, or cyclists were struck.
Why does tracking traffic accidents matter?
Traffic safety–both real and perceived–significantly impacts a city’s quality of life, particularly in regions like the SouthCoast where an overwhelming majority of residents conduct most of their travel by car. Traffic accidents affect the health and well-being of drivers and non-drivers alike, and in communities where the rate of traffic accidents is high, people may be discouraged from traveling on foot or on bike, modes that otherwise promote public health and reduce vehicular emissions and traffic congestion (which further promotes traffic safety).
How do we measure traffic accidents?
Data on traffic accidents is aggregated from crash databases maintained and made publicly available by MassDOT. We measure the degree to which traffic accidents affect SouthCoast cities by measuring across three areas: number of crashes, injuries and fatalities, and involvement of pedestrians or bicyclists.
Specifically, we look at the number of crashes by measuring the total number in 2010 (the most recent year for which data is available), the change in number over time (since 1990), and the most dangerous intersections based on state-level rankings.
Additionally, we look at 2008-10 data to determine the degree to which traffic accidents resulted in injuries and fatalities. Finally, we use MassDOT’s data to measure the number of accidents that involved pedestrians or cyclists.
How is Fall River doing?
1. Total number of accidents: 2,782 (2012)
The total number of accidents–2,782–represents an 1.3% decrease since 2011, a year during which 2,818 accidents were recorded. In the past decade, the number of accidents has decreased by 18.4%. The following graph demonstrates this trend.
2. Most dangerous intersection: Plymouth Avenue & Rodman Street (108 total crashes in 2010-2012)
For each year of data available, MassDOT ranks the state’s most dangerous crash locations. In 2012, Fall River had four intersections land on the statewide top 100 list, with the greatest number of accidents occurring at Plymouth Avenue and Rodman Street (it landed at the number 6 spot statewide). Fall River’s second most dangerous intersection was ranked 45th in the state: Bedford and High/Troy Streets, which saw 52 accidents. See the map below for a display of the city’s most dangerous intersections, via MassDOT‘s interactive mapping tool:
3. Number of fatal injuries resulting from traffic accidents: 9
In 2012, eight traffic accidents resulted in nine fatalities. During the previous year, six fatalities were recorded, while eight people were killed in traffic accidents in 2010.
4. Number of non-fatal injuries resulting from traffic accidents: 928
Approximately 33% of accidents recorded in 2012 resulted in non-fatal injuries. In 2010, 987 injuries resulted from traffic accidents, while 849 were documented in 2011.
5. Number pedestrians involved in traffic accidents: 85
In 2012, 76 traffic accidents affected 85 pedestrians. Seven of these were people in wheelchairs. These accidents resulted in 93 injuries and three fatalities, though the data does not differentiate between injuries to motorists versus pedestrians.
6. Number of traffic accidents involving a cyclist: 31
Thirty-one traffic accidents involved collisions with cyclists in 2012. These accidents resulted in 26 non-fatal injuries, though the data does not distinguish between injuries to cyclists and other persons involved in the accident.
How is New Bedford doing?
1. Total number of accidents: 3,012 (2012)
The total number of accidents in 2012–3,012–represents a 30.4% increase since 2011, a year during which 2,310 accidents were recorded. In the past decade, the number of accidents has decreased by more than 9.3%. The following graph demonstrates this trend.
2. Most dangerous intersection: Route 6 (Kempton Street) & Route 140 (63 total crashes in 2012)
For each year of data available, MassDOT ranks the state’s most dangerous crash locations. In 2012, this New Bedford intersection landed at #18 on the list with 63 crashes that accounted for 28 reported injuries. See the map below for a display of the city’s most dangerous intersections, via MassDOT‘s interactive mapping tool:
3. Number of fatal injuries resulting from traffic accidents: 8
In 2012, 3 fatalities resulted from traffic accidents. This roughly translates to a traffic accident fatality rate of 1 per 1,000 accidents. During the previous year, 11 fatalities were recorded.
4. Number of non-fatal injuries resulting from traffic accidents: 1,312
Approximately 44% of accidents recorded in 2012 resulted in non-fatal injuries. In 2011, 1,022 injuries resulted from traffic accidents.
5. Number pedestrians involved in traffic accidents: 86
In 2012, 86 traffic accidents involved pedestrians. These accidents resulted in 71 non-fatal injuries, though the data does not differentiate between injuries to motorists versus pedestrians.
6. Number of traffic accidents involving a cyclist: 36
In 2012, 36 traffic accidents involved cyclists. These accidents resulted in 31 non-fatal injuries, though the data does not distinguish between injuries to cyclists and other persons involved in the accident.
What’s being done to address traffic accidents, and where may I learn more?
Do you know of any effective programs aimed at reducing traffic accidents? Let us know!
Efforts to reduce traffic accidents
The regional planning agency for the SouthCoast, SRPEDD, studies traffic accident data and identifies opportunities to redesign streets and intersections to promote driver, pedestrian, and cyclist safety. Their reports, many of which include recommended action, can be found at this link.
In fact, SRPEDD studied the Plymouth Avenue/Rodman Street intersection, producing this report and recommending changes to reduce accidents. This study has resulted in action, with state-funded improvements to the road, curbs, and traffic signals along Plymouth Avenue currently underway.
MassDOT conducted a road safety audit of New Bedford’s most dangerous intersection in 2010. Read the report here. The intersection is also slated for a state-funded reconfiguration in 2014; read more in this Standard Times article.
Efforts to improve pedestrian safety
WalkBoston advocates for improving the walkability of cities and towns in Greater Boston. Their website includes great resources for those seeking to improve pedestrian-friendliness in their own communities.
Efforts to improve cyclist safety
A number of organizations work to promote the safety of cyclists through advocacy and the dissemination of best practices. These include Bikes Belong and the League of American Bicyclists, among others.
Locally, the Fall River Bike Committee advocates for making the city more cyclist-friendly, and they also organize bike rides to promote biking in the region. And the New Bedford Bicycle Committee meets monthly to discuss ways to improve bike-friendliness in the city. They also organize group rides in the city and throughout the region to promote awareness and encourage more people to get around the city on bike. Visit their website for links to more resources for cyclists, including where to buy and tune bikes and where to find a bike rack in New Bedford.
Data sources and methods
All data was retrieved from MassDOT’s Crash Portal. Original calculations were done by the Public Policy Center to determine the number of pedestrians and cyclists involved in accidents. Full data sets can be requested at the following link: http://services.massdot.state.ma.us/crashportal.