A data-driven blog that uses chart, maps, cartograms, and other visualizations to understand important societal issues.

Crime, Health

Don’t Drive and Shoot: Gun and Vehicle Deaths by State

Vehicle and gun deaths in the US are positively related. States with a higher vehicular death rates tend to have a higher firearm death rate too. In nineteen of the fifty US states, residents have a higher chance of dying from a firearm (homicide, suicide, accident) than in their car. In Alaska, residents are more than twice as likely to die a firearm death than a vehicular death (~40% more likely in Maryland and Utah). At the other end of the scale, Hawaiians are more than twice as likely to die in a vehicle rather than by a gun (90% and 65% more likely in Massachusetts and Iowa).
There is also a clear relationship between how a state voted in the 2016 Presidential election and the chance of dying via a vehicle or gun, with Red states typically having a higher rate of both. New Mexico, like in so many ways, is the clear exception! Even though there is rarely a direct connection between gun and vehicular deaths, beyond several notable cases of people shooting themselves while driving, the link between road and gun deaths is not unsurprising: rural states tend to be more conservative with higher rates of gun ownership, and rural states have rural roads which tend to have higher fatality rates. Interestingly, swing States in the 2016 election—such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are located in the transition between Red and Blue states. Could road and gun deaths be a reliable predictor of elections?
Data and software: Statistics on firearm deaths are taken from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention1 and vehicular deaths from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety2. The data were compiled and visualized using Microsoft Excel3.

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/firearm_mortality/firearm.htm
  2. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/state-by-state-overview
  3. https://products.office.com/en-us/excel


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