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High Ambient Temperatures Increases the Risk of Motor Vehicle Crashes

All motor vehicle crashes with victims that occurred during the warm period of the years 2000–2011 in Catalonia were included

Thursday, December 3th, 2015

High Ambient Temperatures Increases the Risk of Motor Vehicle Crashes

A study, published in the last volume of Environmental Health Perspectives and led by Xavier Basagaña, researcher from CREAL, an ISGlobal allied center, had been estimated the impact of high ambient temperatures on the daily number of motor vehicle crashes and, in particular, on crashes involving driver performance factors, like distractions, driver error, fatigue, or sleepiness.

Motor vehicle crashes are an important cause of mortality and disability worldwide. Meteorological factors such as rain, snow, fog, wind, hail, and freezing temperatures are known to increase the risk of occurrence of motor vehicle crashes. The effect of heat on the risk of motor vehicle crashes, however, has received less attention. There is plausibility for such an association, as high temperatures are known to decrease human capability of performing physical and intellectual tasks.

According the study, motor vehicle crashes involving driver performance–associated factors were increased in association with heat waves and increasing temperature. These findings are relevant for designing preventive plans in a context of global warming.

The researchers performed a time-series analysis linking daily counts of motor vehicle crashes and daily temperature or occurrence of heat waves. All motor vehicle crashes with victims that occurred during the warm period of the years 2000–2011 in Catalonia were incorporated. The study has included around 118,500 motor vehicle crashes, an average of 64 per day. “The estimated risk of crashes significantly increased by 2.9% during heat wave days, and this association was stronger when restricted to crashes with driver performance–associated factors. The estimated risk of crashes with driver performance factors significantly increased by 1.1% for each 1°C increase in maximum temperature”, explained Basagaña.

Reference:

Xavier Basagaña, Juan Pablo Escalera-Antezana, Payam Dadvand, Òscar Llatje, Jose Barrera-Gómez, Jordi Cunillera, Mercedes Medina-Ramón, and Katherine Pérez. High Ambient Temperatures and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crashes in Catalonia, Spain (2000–2011): A Time-Series Analysis. Environmental Health Perspectives. Volume 123. Number 12. December 2015

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Image: motor vehicle crash. Picture by: Consorcio de Bomberos de Valencia. Flickr. CC.


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