The other day, I was driving up and down the I-15 for a few errands. Along the way, I caught a glimpse of the PSA boards. For those of you who don't know, the I-15 has some digital boards that broadcast messages from the state.
Usually, it's nothing you haven't seen on the internet or news. That day, I noticed it was displaying the year to date road fatality stat of 2019 and 2020. This meant that it was comparing current stats from this time last year.
Since there was no way for me to take a picture when I was the only one driving, I took numbers and figures from this site:
"Zero fatality" has been the slogan on the PSAs for as long as I could remember. As far as I could tell the overall trend has been decreasing over the years. Except, there does seem to be some localized increase in recent years.
This seems insignificant to most of us. What's interesting is the circumstance this year. Even though the State of Utah did not do a lock down, there was definitely less traffic for almost two months. That would be from mid-March to early May. The total crashes does reflect that. What's interesting is the total fatalities.
This is the most interesting thing about statistics: what's the story? What is the interpretation of these data? It's one thing to present them, but what should the audience take from them?
In terms of my state, why were there more fatalities this year? Was it because of bad luck? Or was there a massive increase in traffic after people started to travel again? By increase, I mean much more traffic than the norm before the pandemic.
Since I have never checked out these statistics before, I continued to look around the site. I learned a few things today. For example, I didn't know "unrestrained", not wearing a seat belt, was a common factor.
Some things were counterintuitive to me, but they made sense. It's quite the learning experience. I would have assumed bad weather and old age would have contributed to more accidents. Turned out, that was not exactly true. I guess people are more daring when the conditions are good.
One thing is for sure, though. These accidents are not respecters of age. They are worse when you have underaged passengers.