View Full Version : Mystery: How do I look up road deaths by location?

Pat Waldron
05-01-2019, 09:11 PM
My investigator is looking for a vandal who appears to be doing random acts of abstract expressionism with paint on local roadways. But, the perp is really doing a memorial to deaths that occurred on the road.

People notice the paint splashes on the road and complain but the main character becomes intrigued when a large paint splash appears on the road after a well publicized fatal collision.

How does the main character check public records for paint on the road vandalism??? then connect the dots by finding new paint splashes on the road looking up the incident and connecting it to unsolved homicides? Or maybe ones that haven't occurred, yet.

05-01-2019, 10:50 PM
Where I live, in rural NC, Highway Patrol will have the traffic fatalities reports, or city police if it's inside city limits. They could look them up by location, in theory, but in my experience the one lone administrative person at the station may or may not feel like helping you today. All reports like that should be public record, but they won't let you just waltz through their computer, you have to give them a parameter to search for. Also, HP often uses completely different road names, like State Road 1234 or County Road 1234 instead of, say, Johnson Road, while Johnson Road is what's on the street sign. They have an entire cross directory that lists the numbered name of each road in the county.
If you're somehow not talking traffic fatalities, but acts of murder that occurred just off the road, like, you found a body in a ditch, then it's whoever has jurisdiction. Sheriff, city/town police in city/town limits. But if it happened on the road and there's a hint that a vehicle was involved, then probably Highway Patrol instead of Sheriff.

05-01-2019, 11:48 PM
National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is responsible for providing a wide range of analytical and statistical support to NHTSA and the highway safety community at large. (https://www.nhtsa.gov/research-data)

05-02-2019, 12:04 AM
Paint on the road may not even get reported. Accidents are through the local or state police. And why is paint memorializing a car accident related to an unsolved homicide? And why would paint memorializing an accident show up before a homicide that hasn't happened? Lots to confuse me here...


05-02-2019, 08:05 AM
You need to identify why the paint on the road is vandalism. For example, do you think "Welcome home, Pvt Jones" would be considered vandalism? Or even, "John Jones died here." Any police department that is worrying about this sort of stuff is either very, very bored, or there's something else going on. As long as you're not obscuring the road or other important information or creating a safety hazard, you're going to have to go offensive with the painting to generate interest. Remember that the paint will wear off of the road very quickly.

Until you define why the police or highway department would care, or why a newspaper would pick up the story, it's impossible to answer how to find it because no one is likely to care enough to record it.

Jim Clark-Dawe

Siri Kirpal
05-02-2019, 09:39 PM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

In many places, the police don't bother about graffiti, unless it's threatening. Now it they think the graffiti person is committing murder, that would be different.


Siri Kirpal

Pat Waldron
05-02-2019, 09:58 PM
This may be a real story.

I had seen the paint splattered on nearby roads before, but never gave it much thought until a relative voiced it. What's with all of the paint spilled on the road? I played around with the idea in my head. I write kids scifi, so it's outside my range. My goal is fiction but this story became surreal.

That's when there was a fatal accident close to my home. My errands brought me by the accident site several times. At first it was just the broken tail lights and debris that they didn't clean up on the day of the accident. Then, the paint splashes arrived. White, two buckets full, from a passing vehicle.

I played with the idea that it was a municipal worker who's father, a road painter also, died in a hit and run. Then, his son found himself uncontrollably dropping paint when reminded of his father. Then, intentionally dropping paint. Finally, cracking=up mentally and running reckless drivers off of the road. Interesting story?

Then after writing this post, I googled road deaths in my area and found a clickable map.

Before I tell you what I found, some background.

I've had plenty of time to think about this story and these paint splashes are everywhere in my area. I've seen them 5 miles from my place. There's a place on route 94, not saying the actual road, where there was a paint splash in three different lanes at one point.

So, when I clicked on the google map. I found there was a fatal accident there. 3 deaths. Coincidence? I clicked on another road where there's all different colors of paint splashed on the road. More fatalities. Am I on the trail of a killer? Will he or she find me out?

Is this a known vandal? Why do I keep finding more paint splashes?

Fictionally, it's some great source material.

Realistically, it's connecting too many dots with shoddy investigation.

I'm trying to figure out the best main character. Someone who's brother or sister recently died? Or just someone who had to do community service for putting graffiti somewhere or something else?

05-02-2019, 11:55 PM
Commercially available paint is not that difficult to trace, if you have the time and resources.
A LE agency with appropriate jurisdiction would need a compelling reason to further investigate, beyond taking an initial incident report.
A private investigator would need a willing and very patient client with very deep pockets.
A reporter who finds the circumstances intriguing might chase the story, but editors are not known for their patience--no to mention that the organization's accountants will be scrutinizing related expenditures.

10-14-2019, 06:53 PM
I know this thread is old, but I had to dig it up when I saw this today.


Debbie V
10-17-2019, 08:05 AM
To research accidents on a specific stretch of road, you file a freedom of information act request with the appropriate authority. (County Dept of Transportation or police for county roads, city or state for their roads.) I've done this when there was talk of pushing all truck traffic to a single route in my area. I proved to local organizers that route was no safer than the other for the trucks.