Investigation of the Relationship between Rainfall and Fatal Crashes in Texas, 1994–2018

Han, Zhongyu
Sharif, Hatim O.
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Understanding how crash factors are impacted by rain is critical to road safety planning and management. This study assesses the impact of rain on traffic safety by conducting an analysis of the fatal crashes related to rain in Texas from 1994 to 2018. The fatal crash data was gathered from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Environmental variables used in the analysis include month of the year, time of the day, temperature, and weather condition. The roadway-related factors identified include the posted speed limit, the number of lanes, route sign, and Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT). The driver-related factors identified include age, gender, and the number of licensed drivers in total. Relative risk analysis was performed to statistically quantify the impact of rainy conditions at the hourly and monthly time scales. On average, rain-related fatal crashes represented about 6.8% of the total fatal crashes. However, the proportion shows higher variability at the annual, monthly, and hourly time scales and seems to be influenced by other factors such as the age and gender of the driver, type of the road, and posted roadway speed limit. Total and rain-related crashes show statistically significant decreasing trends when normalized by the total number of licensed drivers or vehicle miles travelled. The relative risk of a fatal crash during rainy conditions was always greater than 1.0 at hourly, monthly, and annual time scales. However, it shows significant variability at the monthly (1.07 to 2.78) and hourly scales (1.35 to 2.57). The relative risk is higher in less urbanized and drier counties, in general. Gender and age analysis reveals that male and young drivers are more likely to be involved in a fatal crash but less likely to be killed in the crash.

rainfall, hazards, fatal crashes, risk, Texas
Sustainability 12 (19): 7976 (2020)
Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Construction Management