The highway that links Western Virginia evokes high emotions because of its heavy truck congestion. One in four vehicles is a big rig. In this special report, we examined the safety, impact and future prospects for I-81.
For our accident data mashup (image below, titled “Fatal crashes on I-81: 1998-2008” at http://roanoke.com/81), we began with 11 years’ worth of state accident data on I-81 in Virginia. We then merged that with a database we had created in-house by combing 10 years of newspaper accounts of accidents along the I-81corridor in Virginia. The final mashup allowed us to layer narrative detail on an otherwise dry official police account. The layering of the two databases allowed our audience to see how often trucks were involved in the 266 fatal crashes during that time. It’s easy to get lost in the details of individual crashes, with names and circumstances attached.
The other map on the homepage (http://www.roanoke.com/81), called “Highs and lows: Elevation and crash data,” allows users to see the road from a different angle than usual. Set against elevation data, the interactive graphic tracks crash data, injury stats, speed limits, and a handful of other factors that collectively make the road feel more treacherous than it might actually be.
Everyone who lives here knows I-81 has an unnerving record of fatal crashes and near-misses involving trucks. But we wanted to probe beyond the myths and personal fears. We aimed to do that by making the data we’d gathered as accessible and as personal as possible.
Entry Link: http://www.roanoke.com/81
This post was submitted by megmartin.