Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 119, 195-201

Heat Waves and Fatal Traffic Crashes in the Continental United States

Affiliations

Heat Waves and Fatal Traffic Crashes in the Continental United States

Connor Y H Wu et al. Accid Anal Prev.

Abstract

Background: A better understanding of how heat waves affect fatal traffic crashes will be useful to promote awareness of drivers' vulnerability during an extreme heat event.

Objective and methods: We applied a time-stratified case-crossover design to examine associations between heat waves and fatal traffic crashes during May-September of 2001-2011 in the continental United States (US). Heat waves, defined as the daily mean temperature >95% threshold for ≥2 consecutive days, were derived using gridded 12.5 km2 air temperatures from Phase 2 of the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS-2). Dates and locations of fatal traffic crash records were acquired from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Results: Results show a significant positive association between fatal traffic crashes and heat waves with a 3.4% (95% CI: 0.9, 5.9%) increase in fatal traffic crashes on heat wave days versus non-heat wave days. The association was more positive for 56-65 years old drivers [8.2% (0.3, 16.7%)] and driving on rural roadways [6.1% (2.8, 9.6%)]. Moreover, a positive association was only present when the heat wave days were characterized by no precipitation [10.9% (7.3%, 14.6%)] and medium or high solar radiation [24.6% (19.9%, 29.5%) and 19.9% (15.6%, 24.4%), respectively].

Conclusions: These findings are relevant for developing targeted interventions for these driver groups and driving situations to efficiently reduce the negative effects of heat waves on fatal traffic crashes.

Keywords: Case-crossover design; Climate change; Fatal traffic crashes; Heat waves; Traffic safety.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of interest

None declared.

Figures

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
Fatal traffic crashes occurred on rural (blue points) and urban (red points) roadways in warm months (May-September) of 2001–2011 in continental US. (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article).
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
Percent change (95% CI) in fatal traffic crashes for all drivers and stratified by drivers’ gender, age, and BMI on the day of a heat wave compared with corresponding non–heat wave control days, defined by HI95th. Estimates are derived from ORs and 95% CIs estimated using case-crossover conditional logistic regression models.
Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.
Percent change (95% CI) in fatal traffic crashes stratified by days of the week, day/night time, speed limits, and urban/rural roadways on the day of a heat wave compared with corresponding non–heat wave control days, defined by HI95th. Estimates are derived from ORs and 95% CIs estimated using case-crossover conditional logistic regression models.
Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.
Percent change (95% CI) in fatal traffic crashes stratified by daily mean solar radiation (W/m2) and daily total precipitation (kg/m2) on the day of a heat wave compared with corresponding non–heat wave control days, defined by HI95th. Estimates are derived from ORs and 95% CIs estimated using case-crossover conditional logistic regression models.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

LinkOut - more resources

Feedback