AAA releases timely study on weather-related traffic deaths

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(WTNH) — According to a study conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, bad weather is a factor in more than 2,000 deaths every winter based on new research.

Dangerous winter storms and bad weather are a factor in nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter. As a potentially historic winter storm approaches the East Coast this weekend, AAA is urging motorists to be prepared and to remain cautious if driving.

“It’s no secret that wet and snow covered roads are more dangerous” says AAA spokesperson Amy Parmenter. “But the latest research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety really paints a new picture of just how many lives are lost as a result.”

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.

“Even though Connecticut is not expected to get the brunt of the storm, it could wreak havoc on the roadways” says Jennifer Shorette, Director of the AAA Driving School. “Drivers with a false sense of security because of lesser accumulations could well be at greater risk.”

The new AAA Foundation research report (motor vehicle crashes, injuries and deaths in relation to weather conditions), analyzed 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:

spacespacCrashes     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.

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