Weather-related Traffic Deaths - What studies show...

26 February 2016 - By Eugene Herbert

Hi Folks…


One, of the many, challenges road safety
practitioners in South Africa encounter is the lack of qualified research data
regarding crashes, particularly factors which may impact on the number and
severity of crashes.


AAA Foundation, in the US, has
determined that – based on new research - bad weather is a factor in more than
2,000 deaths every winter.


Dangerous winter storms and bad weather
are a factor in nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road
deaths every winter and, while it is no secret according to the AAA that wet
and snow covered roads are more dangerous, the latest research from the
Foundation for Traffic Safety paints a new picture of just how many lives are
lost as a result.


This is what the study showed:


Almost half (about 46 percent) of
crashes involving bad weather take place in the winter, making this the worst
time of year for driving. The highest proportion of crashes involving bad
weather happen overnight from 6:00 p.m. until 5:59 a.m., when visibility
is limited and roads are most likely to freeze. Previous research also has
found that the rates of fatal crashes are higher during the first snowfall of
the year than on subsequent days with snow.


The new AAA Foundation research report
(motor vehicle crashes, injuries and deaths in relation to weather conditions),
analysed bad weather and crashes throughout the year. The study found that
rain, snow, sleet and fog are a factor in more than 1.1 million police-reported
crashes, 425,000 injuries and 5,100 traffic deaths per year. The average crash
data for various types of bad weather includes:



































Crashes



Injuries



Deaths



Rain



518,303



206,474



2,239



Snow



189,416



51,267



523



Sleet



36,491



11,644



143



Fog



21,616



8,167



374




The study did uncover surprising news.
Crashes in bad weather are generally less severe than crashes taking place in
clear weather. For example, crashes that occur on snow-covered roads result in
31 percent fewer injuries per crash and 47 percent fewer fatalities per crash
than on dry roads. While the new study was unable to examine the impact of bad
weather on the risk of being involved in a crash in the first place, other
studies have found that rates of all types of crashes generally increase in bad
weather, but that the increases in minor crashes are larger than the increases
in more severe crashes.


This information is of course good
reason to reflect on the high rate of crashes occurring in Gauteng in recent
weeks where increased rains have resulted in heavier traffic, increased
congestion and of course – more crashes.


What can be done to minimise or mitigate
the possibility of being another statistic?


·        
Slow down – ever
noticed how many drivers don’t adjust their speed when it rains


·        
Increase following
distance – generally speaking we recommend an increased following distance of 2
seconds plus. For normal driving 3 to 4 seconds.


·        
Avoid any DWD
activities that would cause the eyes (more particularly attention) to be taken
away from driving actions


·        
Be patient, possibly
even adjusting travel times to avoid the weather and finally


·        
Drive Nice – It’s
Contagious. Courtesy will get you a long way and by allowing other drivers an
opportunity to merge with traffic some of the ‘sudden” movements which
contribute toward crashes will be eliminated.


Till next time – Drive Safe and remember
that, all things being equal, the odds of you being involved in a crash in bad
weather are far greater – take care.



Eugene
Herbert




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