Car Crash Data – Any Insights?

Here we go again with misleading “data.” Based on the following 2018 data released by the NHTSA – it appears that most of the tri-state area is “easy traveling,” when you consider fatal accidents.

Sure, that traffic “data” might lead you to some conclusions – you never get the real story with raw data like this. It’s not sufficient enough!

Like why does the L.A. area have the highest fatalities – when they seem to be in a state of perpetual traffic jams? Aren’t people moving slower?

Or how does population density work? Why isn’t there a filter on this map to also rank fatalities per 100,000 trips? Or demographics? Or illegal alien status? Or valid drivers licenses? Or criminal history?

This is exactly why “data modeling” is over-hyped, and should only be used as a very minor tool when looking for insights. You might now wonder why social media companies know everything about you – and why you should cut the cord.

The map below shows the total number of motor vehicle deaths for every county in the United States, as reported by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Counties that are grey had no reported fatalities in 2018. Hover over any county on the map to see the total fatalities in that county.

Map created by Wendt Law Firm

Top 50 Counties by Total Fatalities in 2018

Rank COUNTY STATE 2018 Fatals 2017 Fatals Inc/Dec 2017 Rank
1 Los Angeles County CALIFORNIA 670 658 1.82% 1
2 Maricopa County ARIZONA 490 471 4.03% 2
3 Harris County TEXAS 389 456 -14.69% 3
4 San Bernardino County CALIFORNIA 298 294 1.36% 8
5 Dallas County TEXAS 295 287 2.79% 7
6 Miami-Dade County FLORIDA 293 285 2.81% 6
7 Riverside County CALIFORNIA 292 282 3.55% 4
8 Cook County ILLINOIS 264 271 -2.58% 5
9 San Diego County CALIFORNIA 255 231 10.39% 9
10 Broward County FLORIDA 237 225 5.33% 10
11 Clark County NEVADA 220 208 5.77% 11
12 Palm Beach County FLORIDA 182 190 -4.21% 19
13 Bexar County TEXAS 181 189 -4.23% 18
14 Orange County FLORIDA 177 182 -2.75% 13
15 Orange County CALIFORNIA 176 180 -2.22% 16
16 Hillsborough County FLORIDA 176 178 -1.12% 12
17 Tarrant County TEXAS 169 172 -1.74% 15
18 Wayne County MICHIGAN 164 164 0.00% 20
19 Shelby County TENNESSEE 158 162 -2.47% 24
20 Kern County CALIFORNIA 144 161 -10.56% 14
21 Duval County FLORIDA 143 156 -8.33% 22
22 Sacramento County CALIFORNIA 134 151 -11.26% 17
23 Suffolk County NEW YORK 132 130 1.54% 25
24 Pinellas County FLORIDA 130 122 6.56% 27
25 Fulton County GEORGIA 130 121 7.44% 29
26 Pima County ARIZONA 125 120 4.17% 31
27 Polk County FLORIDA 123 118 4.24% 33
28 Travis County TEXAS 118 116 1.72% 26
29 King County WASHINGTON 116 115 0.87% 34
30 Mecklenburg County NORTH CAROLINA 115 114 0.88% 30
31 Fresno County CALIFORNIA 113 114 -0.88% 21
32 Santa Clara County CALIFORNIA 111 113 -1.77% 38
33 Marion County INDIANA 109 111 -1.80% 39
34 DeKalb County GEORGIA 108 111 -2.70% 42
35 San Joaquin County CALIFORNIA 107 111 -3.60% 28
36 Volusia County FLORIDA 106 107 -0.93% 23
37 Philadelphia County PENNSYLVANIA 103 107 -3.74% 44
38 Pasco County FLORIDA 99 105 -5.71% 37
39 Prince George’s County MARYLAND 95 102 -6.86% 40
40 Lee County FLORIDA 94 99 -5.05% 32
41 Bernalillo County NEW MEXICO 92 99 -7.07% 45
42 Jefferson County ALABAMA 91 95 -4.21% 36
43 Franklin County OHIO 90 95 -5.26% 48
44 Jackson County MISSOURI 89 94 -5.32% 35
45 El Paso County TEXAS 87 91 -4.40% 55
46 Brevard County FLORIDA 85 90 -5.56% 52
47 Oklahoma County OKLAHOMA 85 90 -5.56% 46
48 New Haven County CONNECTICUT 85 88 -3.41% 56
49 Baltimore County MARYLAND 85 86 -1.16% 61
50 Marion County FLORIDA 84 86 -2.33% 47

Key Takeaways

Los Angeles County was home to the most motor vehicle fatalities in 2018, with 670 fatalities – a 1.82% increase from 2017. This is not surprising: LA County is not only the most populous county in the state of California, but the most populous county in the nation, with more than 10 million people residing within county lines. That, plus the robust, busy network of highways and freeways, increase the likelihood of higher numbers of fatal crashes.

Maricopa County in Arizona ranks second with 490 total traffic fatalities in 2018. Home to the Phoenix major metropolitan area, Maricopa County is an unfortunate surprise on this list. In 2018, the state of Arizona had 1,010 traffic fatalities – a high number, but far from the top five states with the highest number of fatalities. By comparison, California had 3,563 traffic fatalities – more than three times as many as Arizona. Although Maricopa County is the fourth most populous county in the United States, it has less than half the population of Los Angeles County – with 75% of the total fatalities. This is a serious cause for concern in Arizona, and warrants a serious evaluation of the traffic safety measures in place in Maricopa County.

Harris County in Texas ranks third with 389 traffic fatalities in 2018. Home to the vast Houston metropolitan area, Harris County is the third most populous county in the United States. Interestingly, Harris County had the largest year-over-year decrease in fatalities on this list, having nearly 15% less traffic deaths in 2018 than in the year before. Despite that, it maintained its 2017 rank at third place.

Jackson County ranks on this list as well, in 44th place with 89 total traffic fatalities. However, the county has seemingly made progress on traffic safety, with a 5.32% decrease in fatalities compared to 2017 – dropping nine places from 35th the previous year.

Closing Thoughts

Pinpointing traffic fatalities by county is arguably more valuable for inspiring change on a more significant level for traffic safety in America. By analyzing traffic fatality data on a more granular level, we can gain insight into counties that are hot spots for traffic deaths (such as Maricopa County) that we wouldn’t have otherwise found if looking by state.

In doing so, we can hopefully diriect attention to the counties which have high numbers of traffic activity, empowering counties to investigate these situations and make changes based on these data.

Car Crash Data - what good is it?

About the author

NJroute22

NJroute22 (site admin) is an avid traveler along NJ Route 22 (and almost all of central New Jersey!) Family man, pet lover, and property owner who has a natural curiosity for everything around.

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