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State Troopers Are Using Data Analysis to Improve Road Safety


Analyzing data has produced incredible results in recent years, most notably in revolutionizing sports like baseball and basketball. Some state troopers and highway patrol officers have taken to introducing this type of research and analysis into saving people’s lives.

In a recent article published on Huffington Post, then Sgt. Anthony Griffin of the Tennessee Highway Patrol recounted his experience with turning data analysis into a saved life. Back in January of 2014, he was patrolling roads near Murfreesboro when he pulled over and gave a ticket to a young woman driving without wearing a seatbelt. This seemingly ordinary traffic stop turned into something far greater barely four hours later.

Griffin was dispatched to provide assistance at the scene of a major accident where a car had swerved off the road, flew over a bridge, crashed into a utility pole and ended up in a frozen pond. As he approached the seemingly uninjured driver to hear their version of events, he was surprised to discover that it was the same person he pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt that same day.

According to the driver, she only put on her seatbelt after Griffin pulled her over, and believes that the safety device was the reason she survived the crash.

“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.”

Griffin used predictive crash software first created and launched in Tennessee in late 2013 to know where to position himself to save the life of this driver. The software is funded through federal grants – the setup cost about $263,000, and costs about $125,000 to maintain and staff the program every year. The program looks at and merges traffic enforcement citations, information about special events, weather conditions and every crash report in the state to produce a map that shows the locations most likely to see a serious or fatal crash. These areas are broken down into four hour increments and to six or seven mile areas every day, and troopers have access to the information in their vehicles.

Even when troopers don’t see the immediate effects of their actions like Griffin did, keeping officers in high-risk locations could provide a visual deterrent or at the very least ensure that an officer is close by to provide immediate support when necessary. According to the manager of Tennessee’s highway patrol statistics office, Patrick Dolan, the average response time of his agency’s officers has dropped from 37 to 25 minutes from 2012 to 2016.

Not only that, but traffic deaths in Tennessee have dropped by about three percent from 2013 to 2015, while the rest of the nation has seen a seven percent increase over that same time.

“It’s not the silver bullet that is going to solve every problem on traffic safety,” said Col. Tracy Trott, the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s commander. “But it’s another tool, an effective one, to give our people an idea of where they need to be and what they need to be working on to help prevent some of these crashes or at least be there quicker.”

While these types of advancements make the roads safer for everyone, reckless drivers still put tens of thousands of lives at risk every year and injure millions more. At Levinson Axelrod, our New Jersey personal injury attorneys are dedicated to providing injured victims with the experienced legal representation they need to secure the maximum compensation possible. If you were seriously injured in a car crash, give us a call at (732) 440-3089 to discuss your case with one of our New Jersey lawyers, or fill out our online form to request a free case evaluation today.

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