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December 20, 2017  |  Why we're colliding  |  6089 hit(s)

Via the @AngrySeattle Twitter feed today[1], I discovered the 2017 Traffic Report (PDF) by the City of Seattle. The report is full of many data (most of which I have not studied), but I did home in on a chart that showed "Contributing Circumstances for all 2016 Collisions":

The chart has oddities. One is that the circumstances apparently come off incident reports or something, so they're not, like, taxonomically rigorous. ("Driver not distracted"? "None"? wth) Another is that the chart is arranged in alphabetic order by circumstance, which is, I believe, the least useful possible way to have arranged it. So I copied to an Excel sheet that lets me play with the data a bit, and that you can download if for some reason you want to.

If you read my recent and lengthy screed about maintaining a safe following distance while driving (Mind the gap), you can probably guess what I was most interested in in this chart. Here are the top 7 circumstances and the total number of collisions they caused:
  1. None: 9196
  2. Inattention: 2386
  3. Other: 2163
  4. Did not Grant Right of Way to Vehicle: 1570
  5. Unknown Driver Distraction: 1265
  6. Driver Not Distracted: 910
  7. Following Too Closely: 597
As I say, the categories are odd. If we focus on those circumstances that actually make sense, we can see that "Following Too Closely" accounts for 597 collisions. If we combine "Inattention"(2386), another circumstance I discussed in my screed, and what the heck …

"Driver Interacting with passengers, Animals, or Objects Inside Vehicle" (23),
"Driver Operating Other Electronic Devices" (10),
"Driver Operating Handheld Telecommunications Device" (6), and
"Driver Adjusting Audio or Entertainment System" (4),

… the total comes to 3026 collisions.

As I noted then, we tend to take driving for granted, and sometimes treat our cars like a living room. But you have to pay attention or collisions can result.

[1] They are true to that name.