Effects of rainfall on vehicle crashes in six U.S. states

Alan W. Black, Gabriele Villarini, Thomas L. Mote

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Rainfall is one of many types of weather hazard that can lead to motor vehicle crashes. To better understand the link between rainfall and crash rates, daily gridded precipitation data and automobile crash data are gathered for six U.S. states (Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio) for the period 1996-2010.Amatched pair analysis is used to pair rainfall days with dry days to determine the relative risk of crash, injury, and fatality. Overall, there is a statistically significant increase in crash and injury rates during rainfall days of 10% and 8%, respectively, leading to an additional 28 000 crashes and 12 000 injuries in the 1 May-30 September period each year relative to what would be expected if those days were dry. The risk of crashes and injuries increases for increasing daily rainfall totals, with an overall increase in crashes and injuries of 51%and 38%during days with more than 50mm (2 in.) of rainfall. While urban counties and rural counties with and without interstates each saw increased crash risk during rainfall, urban counties saw the most significant increases in relative risk. There are a number of exceptions to these broad spatial patterns, indicating that relative risk varies in ways that are not explained solely by meteorological factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-70
Number of pages18
JournalWeather, Climate, and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science


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