This image of every road death in the UK is painfully pretty

This beautiful BBC image isn't a photo taken from the space station. It's actually a composite showing the location of 2,396,750 road crashes in Great Britain from 1999 to 2010. Each light point is an individual collision which resulted in a casualty. The intensity of brightness shows where collisions are more frequent.

Seeing deaths and injuries recorded as spots of light on a map creates an oddly beautiful image.

What should make people feel more comfortable with this depiction of death created by the BBC is that although every day five people die on British roads, fatalities from car crashes have been cut by nearly half over the past decade.

Safety regulators beat their chests at these numbers, and yes, some of that drop can be attributed to an increase in active and passive safety technologies and enforcement practices. But that doesn't explain why, for the first half of 2011, the number of people dying on UK roads rose for the first time in four years. In January to March, the deaths were up 6% while in April to June, they jumped by 7%.

This despite no change in regulatory and enforcement.

So what was causing it?

This image of every road death in the UK is painfully pretty

Perhaps it was an uptick in the economy that wasn't well-recorded by economic indicators? Or the opposite — perhaps it's a sense of recklessness from a continually stagnant economy? Maybe even, as one Twitter user pointed out, it could have just been an overly harsh winter. We just don't know yet.

The point is that no amount of technology or enforcement policies will completely cull risk from driving. The best way to stay safe continues to be by being well-educated in how your car works, careful about its use and wary of your fellow drivers.

In addition to the above image, the BBC also has a series of time-lapse videos over on their site. Check them out here. (Hat tip to Autoblog!)