Map of traffic fatalities in Lowndes County related to paving and widening

What do you see when you zoom in on traffic fatalities in Lowndes County, Georgia? Lots of road deaths on roads recently paved, for one thing.

Simon Rogers wrote for the Guardian 22 November 2011, US road accident casualties: every one mapped across America

369,629 people died on America’s roads between 2001 and 2009. Following its analysis of UK casualties last week, transport data mapping experts ITO World have taken the official data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – and produced this powerful map using OpenStreetMap. You can zoom around the map using the controls on the left or search for your town using the box on the right – and the key is on the top left. Each dot represents a life
The national view is very interesting, but let’s look at Lowndes County:

I don’t know what that adds up to, but it looks to me like a lot of dead people, and in just nine years, from 2001 to 2009. Far more dead people than killed by terrorism.

OK, but where are these fatalities happening? All over the county. Let’s zoom in on Hambrick Road:

Hm, two fatalities shown on Hambrick Road, and none on state highway 122 slightly to the north. And those two are not even all, judging by this cross that appeared about halfway between in January 2011. Plus there was an accident on Hambrick that sent three people to the hospital; fortunately nobody died in that one. So that’s two or three fatalities on Hambrick Road and at least three people sent to the hospital, all since it was paved about a decade ago. According to families who have lived nearby for generations, in the hundred years Hambrick was a dirt road, there was only one serious accident.

One could start to wonder whether paving roads causes accidents and even deaths.

We already know that wider is not safer; slower is safer. For that matter, trees make roads safer, by getting drivers to pay attention. And it’s hard to get going as fast on a dirt road.

So why does the Lowndes County Commission persist in cutting down trees to pave and widen roads like Staten Road where, according to David Rodock in the VDT 17 November 2011, three Moody airmen perished this month due to excessive speeds?

“The 23rd Wing has endured another great loss. I, along with everyone on this base, grieve for them and their family during this time. I offer my sincerest condolences and our team will continue to help those affected by this tragedy,” said Col. Billy Thompson, 23rd Wing commander. “Team Moody is keeping the family and friends affected in our thoughts and prayers.”

Based on the crash-site investigation and Georgia State Patrol officers crash report, the 2008 silver Dodge Charger was traveling at a high rate of speed on a sharp corner along the 5000 block of Staten Road early Sunday morning when the driver lost control and traveled toward the embankment.

These are the troops we train to protect us from foreign enemies. Why are we creating the conditions that kill those same troops right here at home?