April 2015 Collision Tweets from DC Fire and EMS

By Cory Bilton

Cars in Traffic

DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services (“DC FEMS”) has been using Twitter to announce the occurrence of collisions and fires in the District of Columbia (and other, more pleasant things, too). Take a look at their Twitter feed (@DCFIREEMS) and you will see numerous reports of collisions involving vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists almost every day. Although the DC FEMS’s tweets are certainly not exhaustive, I was curious to look at a summary of a month’s worth of collision tweets. So I scrolled through every DC FEMS tweet from April 2015 to gain an overview of the collisions happening in Washington, DC.

DC FEMS Collision Tweets

April 2015
Number
Percentage

Vehicle Collisions
123
75.9%

Bicycle /Vehicle Collisions
2
1.2%

Pedestrian /Vehicle Collisions
37
22.8%

Total
162
100%

These numbers surely undercount the actual number of collisions during the month of April. For example, there are hardly any tweets about collisions occurring on the weekends. I take this as a sign that DC FEMS does not have a weekend tweeter, rather than a sign that there are no collisions on Saturday or Sunday. Also, since the tweets come from DC FEMS, these statistics do not count any collision where no one calls for an ambulance.

Other than the weekends, there were only 5 days in April where no pedestrians or bicyclists were struck. Is there something unique about these five days or is this random? I notice that all five days reported some rainfall, but surely there was rainfall on other April days as well.

It is good to see so few bicycle collisions. Few bicycle collisions could mean that bicyclists and vehicles are obeying the rules and therefore avoiding collisions. However, it could also be the result of there being so few people riding bicycles. Since April is typically a month when the weather keeps many people from riding yet, I suspect that the number will be low by comparison with May.

Here is the bicyclist and pedestrian collision data by quadrant where the crash took place:

April 2015
NW
NE
SW
SE

Ped / Veh
15
14
2
4

Bike / Veh
2
0
0
0

Since the NW quadrant is the largest and the location of most all of the downtown area, it is not surprising to me that is where most of the bicyclist and pedestrian collisions occur. It is a little surprising that the collision numbers for the NE and SE quadrants are not closer. I thought NE and SE were very similar in both size and population, so I would assume collisions occur with similar frequency. Maybe there are fewer pedestrians and bicyclists in SE? Or maybe after a collision, there are fewer calls to DC FEMS? Without more information, I can only guess.

With only a single month of data to look at, it is hard to know if April is a typical month in terms of collisions. As spring gives way to summer, I anticipate that there will be greater numbers of pedestrian and bicycle collisions as people get outside more often. DC FEMS collision tweets give us an interesting snapshot of something that happens all around us almost every day, but which few of us pay much attention.

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