When you and your friends attend a sporting event where vendors sell beer, maybe you abstain from drinking anything alcoholic because you are driving.

This is a good decision because, on the short drive home, you may notice an unusually strong presence of law enforcement officers. Is this a result of the C.R.A.S.H. program?

What it is

The acronym stands for Crash Reduction Analyzing Statistical History, a long name for a predictive analytic software program the Tennessee Highway Patrol has been using since 2014. The program divides the state of Tennessee into squares that measure five-by-six miles each. The system crunches all sorts of data that analysts feed into it; information such as upcoming special events, historic crash statistics, home football schedules and even weather patterns. It then predicts potential traffic issues within each square through reports generated every four hours throughout the day.

Next steps

Analysts can input as many different types of information as they want, but the program will separate the wheat from the chaff and only use data that is relevant to a particular search. Based on the predictions coming from C.R.A.S.H., the police captain can send resources to a certain area either in time to avoid the risk of an accident or to assist if a crash does occur. The system has a good track record: its accuracy rate stands at 72 percent.

Ignorance is bliss

The police officers you saw were in the area to watch for any drivers who could have had a little too much to drink at the game and might have jeopardized their own safety as well as yours as you were driving home. You could have been the victim of a catastrophic car accident. However, you will never know how close you came to a collision, because the C.R.A.S.H. program identified a potential trouble spot for police to cover–but then, that is the whole point.