Data-driven Story Spotlights L.A. Pedestrian Dangers

Stepping into a busy intersection in Los Angeles sometimes feels as if you are the star in your very own big-budget Hollywood thriller. Danger lurks with every step. The suspense is palpable as you navigate the action-packed crossing, hoping only to make it to the other side without being gravely injured.

Just how much of a wild ride it can be to cross the street in Los Angeles is the central focus of a comprehensive analysis of pedestrian safety by the Los Angeles Times. The report went live on the Times website this weekend. The results are solidly reported and beautifully rendered.

The detailed report reveals the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians to cross.  Data analyzed by the Times team found that a quarter of all traffic accidents in the city involved less than 1 percent of all intersections in the city, mostly in the downtown and Hollywood areas.

Team members brought different skills sets to the project so that the final product is greater than the sum of its individual parts. The report features investigative reporting, web design, data analysis, visual journalism and audience engagement all coming together in a compelling, attractive and user-friendly way.

The visually appealing story features a looping video across the top of streets crowded with walking people and moving cars.

The post has an embedded map showing where most of the problem crossings are located. There’s a cleverly produced video showing Highland Avenue and  Hollywood Boulevard with a sped-up look at how drivers and pedestrians routinely violate basic crosswalk rules to make things dangerous.  When each transgression happens, the video is stopped and the danger highlighted.

From an educational standpoint the best part of this report is the explanatory piece by web producer Armand Emamdjomeh on how the data analysis was produced. The Times team began by dowloading 5.6 million accident reports from the California Highway Patrol and then extracting only Los Angeles incidents.

In the end the report examined more than 25,000 local accidents. Then it looked at factors such as the proportion of accidents involving pedestrians as well as pedestrian deaths to determine which intersections were the most dangerous.

As a team leader on this report, Emamdjomeh is clearly a unique talent. He has a strong journalism background and is equally adept with graphics, data analysis, and web production. Newsroom members such as Emamdjomeh may be the exception today, but essential for all newsrooms in the future.

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