On first glance, the concept behind SafeRoadMaps.org seems pretty grim. The Center for Excellence in Rural Safety has collected information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to enables users to find the intersections with the highest number of traffic accidents in their home towns. In addition to informing the public about a community’s most dangerous intersections, the website’s stated goal is to inspire drivers to change their dangerous bad driving habits.

“By getting that research out there in a way that is easily understood, we can change behavior,” said Thomas Horan, the CERS Research Director, noting that the site separates accidents based on layers of behavioral variables. “While an accident or a fatality occurred at a specific location, the behavior is a strong driver in the adverse outcome. And we want to really affect that behavior.”

The data is collected online and displayed on an interactive Google-type map. These maps can be modified to yield more specific information or clearer images of the intersection in question. I typed in downtown San Francisco and found that of the ten fatal car accidents in San Francisco in 2008, the user can quickly determine which accidents were caused by high speeds, drinking, or failure to wear a seat belt.

In addition to local results, the site enables access to fatal accident information on the state and national levels, separated by more levels of variables, including type of vehicle, and age of the victims.

Check out the website to get a better understanding of the most dangerous intersections you drive by every day. But while you’re there, take some time to think about Horan’s suggestion that it be used as a resource to get drivers to abandon bad habits on the road. For more, see the whole interview with Horan here:

Photo credit: Rob!