On the drive to work, school, or a family function, a car crash can be as unpredictable as a lightning strike.
Where or when it will happen, nobody knows.
But a new interactive map on the Indiana State Police website uses existing crash data to predict the likelihood of you having a car accident.
Forecasting a car crash like forecasting the weather.
But this is no weather map.
It’s a Driver Crash Prediction Map.
“Over the last 5 years, we’ve had over 2-million crashes right here in Indiana and those two million crashes have been downloaded into the system,” says Indiana Police Sergeant Todd Ringle.
And this data has been processed by this new interactive tool developed with the help of Management Performance Hub to predict where crashes are most likely to occur in the state of Indiana.
Sgt. Ringle says, “I think it’s important for people to have a way to look at their area or roadway that they’re going to be traveling to dictate which is the safest route.”
Like a weather map, the Driver Crash Prediction Map forecasts the probability of crashes using colors and times of day.
A driver has the option of choosing a three hour window and the map will show areas of risk during that time-frame:
Red meaning High, yellow: Medium, and blue: Low.
And historical information on the shaded areas come in the form of dots.
“Gray dots indicate a property damage crash, a red dot indicates a personal injury crash,” says Sgt. Ringle. “So if you open up a map and you look at a particular intersection and you see multiple red dots or multiple gray dots, you know that that is an area where we see a lot of crashes. So you might alter your route or you maybe more vigilant when your traveling through that particular intersection.”
Does the map work?
I put it to the test, heading up to the intersection of Highway 41 and Lynch Road in Evansville, through the highest risk areas i could find.
“So the route I’m going to take, instead of just driving straight up Highway 41, what I’m going to do is I’m going to go up 41, hop off onto Riverside to Pollack, go all the way up South Weinbach Avenue right here, then get back onto Division Street, to 41 and then proceed through this red zone area all the way up to my final destination.”
I left Eyewitness News in Henderson around 9:45 in the morning.
Not peak rush hour, but I knew on a beautiful day like this one, more people would likely be out on the road.
The drive up Highway 41 was smooth as was Riverside to Pollack.
“I am turning on South Weinbach Avenue. If you recall from the map we had just shown you a moment ago, right now I’m actually driving through the heart of that red zone area where there is an increase chance of getting into a crash….What I am noticing most is just of course, Weinbach being more of a narrow four lane road here, that there is a lot of stopping and going, people having to turn left, people having to turn right…so for a driver who is not paying 100-percent of attention or is distracted, there is a potential risk for a crash here in this area.”
The normal drive time from Henderson to the area of 41 and Lynch is typically 15 minutes. This particular route took me about 25 minutes.
“So we made it to our final destination here at 41 and Lynch. Just pulled off into a parking lot. I did notice that there was a high volume of traffic through the route that we did take, of course, we were shown on the Driver Prediction Map that we would be driving through a high risk zone. But again, we made it here, we’re fine, no scratches, nothing like that. But even though we did make it safe, it doesn’t really matter where you’re driving or what risk zone you find yourself in, the most important thing to remember is just be safe, be defensive and don’t be distracted.”
“It’s important to drive the speed limit, know your surrounding, make sure you follow other cars at a safe distance, use your turn signals when your making lane changes, avoid making lane changes unless you’re actually passing somebody. And then make sure everybody is buckled up,” says Sgt. Ringle.
So, if you want to check the roadways as if you were checking today’s weather forecast , the Driver Crash Prediction Map has you covered.
Because with potential danger ahead, it never hurts to always drive safe.
To use the Driver Crash Prediction Map, or to learn more, click here.