The state of California keeps careful tabs on accident information. This data is used by authorities to identify how, where, and why accidents in California take place. It also helps to inform public safety decisions, like the creation of new roads.
Law enforcement and planning agencies rely heavily on accident data, but this information is also freely available to the public. The primary tools through which you can access California crash information are the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) and the Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS).
What Is the SWITRS?
The California Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) is essentially an online database that holds all of the available information on record about California car accidents.
You can find information like where and when crashes occur, types of accidents, and additional details, such as the type of vehicles involved. This data is often used by law enforcement and other agencies to generate statistics-based reports.
The SWITRS database is relied on heavily for making safety decisions. While the general public has access to the database both for research and informational purposes, the format of the database is far from user-friendly.
Making the public information stored in SWITRS more accessible to all users is the reason the TIMS was developed.
What Is the TIMS?
The Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS) is an interactive safety tool designed by the University of California, Berkeley. The creators of the TIMS understood that public safety data isn’t very helpful if no one can understand it.
The purpose of the TIMS is to take the dense data stored in the SWITRS and produce meaning out of it. This is why the TIMS is primarily a mapping tool. The system breaks down crash information and presents it as visually appealing, easy-to-understand interactive maps.
If a parent wants to learn more about traffic safety in their areas, or a college student wants to write a research paper on the number of pedestrian accidents that occur near their campus, attempting to find relevant information and draw meaningful conclusions using the raw data from the SWITRS might be a challenge. However, the TIMS makes it easy to find this sort of information.
Helpful TIMS Features for California Drivers
The TIMS breaks down safety data in a way that’s useful for everyone. Whether you’re an employee of a statewide planning agency or a concerned parent, the variety of interactive maps available through the TIMS makes finding the information you’re looking for simple.
Some of the many online maps and charts available through the TIMS include:
- Safe Routes to School Map
- Motorcycle Crash Map
- ATP Map, which shows pedestrian and bicycle crashes
- Weekly Crash Trends
- DUI Crash Summary
Most of these interactive maps can be filtered down to a user’s specific location or community. For example, a parent can access the Safe Routes to School Map to identify which route to their child’s school has the lowest risk of a car accident.
Motorcyclists might benefit from consulting the Motorcycle Crash Map to avoid areas that bring the highest safety risk for bikers, while pedestrians and cyclists might want to consult the ATP Map before heading for their morning exercise.
Much work goes into accumulating the data stored in the SWITRS. However, the TIMS makes it possible for all Californians to directly benefit from this data by quickly looking up options for the safest routes around their communities.
TIMS History and Development
Work on the TIMS began in 2003. At the time, the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) funded a project for the University of California, Berkeley.
Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Education and Research Center (SafeTREC) was founded to sift through SWITRS data. The goal of the project was to identify how the data could be used to better support public safety and help agencies make better use of the raw crash data.
Over time and with additional OTS funding, SafeTREC developed additional technologies that eventually culminated in the Transportation Injury Mapping System as it’s known today.
Keeping Californians Safe on the Road
When data is properly organized, it tells a story. In the context of the TIMS, the story is helping California government agencies make public safety decisions designed to reduce the rate of injuries and fatalities on California’s roads.
One accident at a time, the TIMS works to keep Californians safe by offering a glimpse into the causal factors of car accidents in California.
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Michael Pines is a former insurance company attorney who graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1987. While he was an insurance attorney, he learned from behind the scenes how insurance companies work and how they decide how much to pay injured people. Now that he works against insurance companies, Michael’s inside knowledge has resulted in significant benefits to his clients injured in car accidents. Learn more about Michael Pines