Troopers Use ‘Big Data’ to Predict Crash Sites

Jenni Bergal at Pew Charitable Trusts: “As Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Anthony Griffin patrolled an area near Murfreesboro one morning in January 2014, he gave a young woman a ticket for driving her Geo Prizm without wearing a seat belt.

About four hours later, Griffin was dispatched to help out at the scene of a major accident a few miles away. A car had veered off the road, sailed over a bridge, struck a utility pole and landed in a frozen pond. When Griffin went to question the driver, who appeared uninjured, he was shocked to find it was the same woman he had ticketed earlier.

She told him she had been wearing her seat belt only because he had given her a ticket. She believed it had saved her life. And if it hadn’t been for new crash prediction software his agency was using, Griffin said he wouldn’t have been in that spot to issue her the ticket.

“I’m in my 21st year of law enforcement and I’ve never come across anything where I could see the fruit of my work in this fashion,” said Griffin, who is now a lieutenant. “It was amazing.”

As more and more states use “big data” for everything from catching fraudsters to reducing heath care costs, some highway patrols are tapping it to predict where serious or fatal traffic accidents are likely to take place so they can try to prevent them….

Indiana State Police decided to take a different approach, and are making their predictive crash analytics program available to the public, as well as troopers.

A color-coded Daily Crash Prediction map, which went online in November, pulls together data that includes crash reports from every police agency in the state dating to 2004, daily traffic volume, historical weather information and the dates of major holidays, said First Sgt. Rob Simpson….(More)”