Adverse weather conditions and fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States, 1994-2012
Advanced Search
Select up to three search categories and corresponding keywords using the fields to the right. Refer to the Help section for more detailed instructions.

Search our Collections & Repository

For very narrow results

When looking for a specific result

Best used for discovery & interchangable words

Recommended to be used in conjunction with other fields



Document Data
Clear All
Clear All

For additional assistance using the Custom Query please check out our Help Page


Adverse weather conditions and fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States, 1994-2012

Filetype[PDF-842.53 KB]



  • Alternative Title:
    Environ Health
  • Personal Author:
  • Description:

    Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury mortality. Adverse weather and road conditions have the potential to affect the likelihood of motor vehicle fatalities through several pathways. However, there remains a dearth of assessments associating adverse weather conditions to fatal crashes in the United States. We assessed trends in motor vehicle fatalities associated with adverse weather and present spatial variation in fatality rates by state.


    We analyzed the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) datasets from 1994 to 2012 produced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that contains reported weather information for each fatal crash. For each year, we estimated the fatal crashes that were associated with adverse weather conditions. We stratified these fatalities by months to examine seasonal patterns. We calculated state-specific rates using annual vehicle miles traveled data for all fatalities and for those related to adverse weather to examine spatial variations in fatality rates. To investigate the role of adverse weather as an independent risk factor for fatal crashes, we calculated odds ratios for known risk factors (e.g., alcohol and drug use, no restraint use, poor driving records, poor light conditions, highway driving) to be reported along with adverse weather.


    Total and adverse weather-related fatalities decreased over 1994–2012. Adverse weather-related fatalities constituted about 16 % of total fatalities on average over the study period. On average, 65 % of adverse weather-related fatalities happened between November and April, with rain/wet conditions more frequently reported than snow/icy conditions. The spatial distribution of fatalities associated with adverse weather by state was different than the distribution of total fatalities. Involvement of alcohol or drugs, no restraint use, and speeding were less likely to co-occur with fatalities during adverse weather conditions.


    While adverse weather is reported for a large number of motor vehicle fatalities for the US, the type of adverse weather and the rate of associated fatality vary geographically. These fatalities may be addressed and potentially prevented by modifying speed limits during inclement weather, improving road surfacing, ice and snow removal, and providing transit alternatives, but the impact of potential interventions requires further research.

    Electronic supplementary material

    The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12940-016-0189-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

  • Subjects:
  • Source:
  • Pubmed ID:
  • Pubmed Central ID:
  • Document Type:
  • Place as Subject:
  • Collection(s):
  • Main Document Checksum:
  • Download URL:
  • File Type:

You May Also Like

Checkout today's featured content at