MINNEAPOLIS, MN --- You can now identify the deadliest road in your town or daily commute through an online interactive map program.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota's Center for Excellence in Rural Safety (CERS) developed www.saferoadmaps.org, so anyone can simply enter their address to see a map or satellite image of all of the road fatalities that have occurred in the area. Users can narrow their search to see the age of the driver, whether speeding or drinking was involved, and whether the driver was wearing a seat belt.

"When drivers type in their most common routes, they're shocked how much blood is being shed on it," CERS Research Director Tom Horan said. "When it's the route you or your loved ones use, the need to buckle up, slow down and avoid distractions and drinking suddenly becomes much more personal and urgent."

CERS officials expressed hope that the Web site will help promote driver safety. One big target audience is rural drivers, because, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 57 percent of highway deaths happen on rural roads.

"By mapping out these fatalities, we can visually see what a large problem we have in our country," Lee Munnich, director of CERS in the university's Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs, said. "It is time to start working toward prevention, and each one of these dots on the map represents that."

The data for the site comes from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). FARS is manned by state employees who cull data from police accident reports, state vehicle registration files, state driving license files, state highway department data, vital statistics, death certificates, hospital records, and the like. Presently, the system contains 38,588 accidents, which resulted in 42,642 fatalities, involved 57,943 vehicles and 98,040 people. The data is from 2006, the most currently available.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet