Everyday Computing, Features

Data Points

By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

THE recent carnage on our roads, including the five fatalities since the start of the year, is a grim reminder of the effects of our actions and on the need to improve driving habits, especially since the youth are disproportionately represented in these statistics. If we are serious about our development and road safety, we should understand everything about each fatality. Even near-miss incidents may hold important clues to guide our steps. At some point, a series of near-miss incidents will lead to an actual, predictable crash. Better to be proactive and take preventative steps than to shed tears in the aftermath of a serious incident.

Ever experienced a near-miss caused by reckless drivers overtaking a series of vehicles, up a hill, and round a bend? Maybe you’ve been blinded by exceedingly bright headlights which were not dimmed even as you approached. Based on the bright lights mounted on some vehicles, you might think that some motorists are suffering from vision problems, are plain inconsiderate, or altogether clueless. Would concerns of your personal safety allow you to dazzle someone else driving at speed in your direction?

A spreadsheet is an office productivity application used to analyse data arranged in a simple grid. These rows and columns are used to store data points to help understand the issue being studied. To better manage the use of our roads, each observed accident, incident, and near-miss must be suitably analysed. Our driving schools, police, insurance industry, and even the Ministry of Infrastructure must all do more to improve road use and safety.

Factors affecting an accident include:
* Road conditions, such as the slope, curvature, and debris;
* Driver distractions, such as smoking habits or mobile phone use;
* Age and number of passengers;
* The age and gender of the driver;
* Time since passing the driving exam; and
* The driving school, instructor and examiner.

The more data we collect, the more we can analyse the conditions surrounding an incident, and effectively guide our responses. These responses may include:
1) Insurance companies rewarding better driving habits with lower premiums;
2) Road safety laws to guide the night-time road use of new drivers;
3) The police profiling and targeting areas for increased patrols;
4) Driving schools may include innovative defensive night-time driving skills;
5) The Ministry upgrading road conditions, markings, and warning signs.

Each road fatality is a tragedy, magnified by our inaction and inattention. The data will point to the needed action, which we ought to take for the sake of road safety.

To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.

(About the Author: Dr.Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant offering expertise in data management, systems design and analysis.)

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