There’s a great deal of analysis yet to be done but the final numbers are in: stranger danger is about 17 times more likely to come in the shape of an unknown person behind the wheel than an assailant with a knife or a gun. At least in 2016. At least in the greater Springfield area. 34 people died due to crashes with vehicles other than just their own whether they were driving or riding in their own cars or with someone they knew, walking along the road, or biking or even skateboarding.
Only two of twelve murders in Springfield had police scratching their heads as to the connection between victim and killer. The 12 homicides represents a 33% drop year over year even when including what has only been described as an accidental discharge of a weapon in one particular case. Leaving that incident aside, every victim was male and, with only 3 outliers every one was a member of the minority community between the ages of 20-40. The two stranger murders took the lives of a 72 year old Hispanic male, and a 38 year old White male. That’s a pretty tight distribution in a community made up of roughly a 50-50 White/minority split and, of course, a fairly similar gender distribution.
The automobile numbers run a much broader scope from a 9 year old girl and a 10 year old boy to a woman in her nineties and a man in his late eighties. 38 victims were male, 20 female (with one never identified). Slightly less than half of the victims were in the 20 to 39 year old age range with people in the 41-60 range making up roughly 1/4 of the victims, 17% were elderly, 8% were teens or children. Victims of car crashes are not given the same level of coverage as victims of violent crime so race and ethnicity are not easily or regularly available, that said it is clear that there is as wide a distribution in those areas as there is with age and gender.
Given that nearly every community in the region possesses car centered, pedestrian centered, and even automobile exclusive zones I intend to give closer scrutiny to each incident zone by zone at some point. For now it is interesting to note that 5 towns with less than 2% of the region’s population account for over 10% of the fatalities…as published and peer reviewed papers have suggested is the norm.
I’m intrigued to see how distance from the urban core relates to the numbers as well as what percentage of deaths occurred in poorer “urban core” neighborhood’s in Springfield and Holyoke.