Visualizing 5 years of traffic fatalities: what is the deadliest time to drive?

Data visualization expert John Nelson uses graphic design to illustrate risk. In his latest infographic, he plots the perilousness of driving — something many of us will be doing a lot of in the coming weeks. Using traffic fatality data collected between 2006 and 2010, Nelson set out to look for daily, weekly, monthly, and geographic trends in deadly car accidents across the United States. Here's what he found.

Nelson provides some background:

Every year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration releases a massive set of data collected for each recorded vehicle crash where there was a fatality. They do it to allow groups to perform their own analysis with the goal of increasing awareness and ultimately decreasing fatalities.

Inspired by the work of Nathan Yau — who, earlier this year, used NHTSA data from a single year to look for trends in traffic fatalities — Nelson decided to see if he could visualize patterns of risk that repeat themselves over longer time intervals.

"I downloaded five years of it to get a big enough set to look at what time of the day or night is especially prone to fatal traffic incidents from a day-of-the-week perspective and also from a time-of-year perspective," Nelson explains. "Finally, I did some basic segmentation mapping to get a rough geographic sense of where rates of different sorts of accidents were more or less likely to occur (take these with a grain of salt)."

Nelson tells io9 he was "surprised by the amount of structure that appeared right off the bat":

Click here to see in hi-res

Visualizing 5 years of traffic fatalities: what is the deadliest time to drive?

Read more over at Nelson's blog, and see more of his stunning data visualizations here.

Top image via Shutterstock