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Will Climate Change Cause More Traffic Fatalities?

Study Shows Even Light Rain Can Increase the Risk of Car Accidents

An Inside Science article takes a look at a very interesting topic. Could climate change result in more traffic accident fatalities? It’s a known fact that when more drivers take to the roads – be it due to falling gas prices or a growth in the economy – traffic accident fatalities do increase. Now, economists have established the downside to another occurrence, which would normally be considered good: nice weather. That has led to a couple of economists investigating how climate change may affect car accident rates in the U.S. over the next century.

Researchers analyzed data from about 46 million police-reported accidents from 20 states, daily travel logs of 207,455 households and weather from 2,607 stations in the United States between 1990 and 2010. They found that when the temperature is below freezing or it’s snowing or raining, the risk of injury crashes increases.

Warmer Weather and Traffic Fatalities

While warm weather had little or no effect on those types of accidents, researchers did find that accident deaths increased as the weather improved, by as much as 9 percent on days with temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit compared to days with temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. They looked into travel logs that included information about walking, biking and driving.

They found that warm weather accidents involved more people riding motorcycles and bicycles and walking. These people tend to suffer more severe injuries because they have less protection in the event of a crash. In their analysis, researchers predict that as the planet warms there will be a net increase of about 650 traffic fatalities, mostly pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists each year in the U.S. by the year 2100.

Driver Negligence

While this is an interesting projection, what really causes a majority of traffic accidents is driver negligence. Drivers who are impaired, speeding, distracted, reckless or otherwise negligent are the ones who cause the most number of accidents. Regardless of climate change, pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists are particularly in danger of being severely injured by these drivers who do not pay attention to the roadway.

If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a car accident caused by a negligent driver, an experienced California car accident attorney can help you better understand your legal rights and options. The best personal injury law firms will always offer a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation to injured victims and their families.

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