Projected implications of climate change for rainfall-related crash risk
Hambly, Derrick Jackson
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It has been well established in previous research that driving during rainfall is associated with increased risk of traffic collision involvement. Of particular concern are heavy rain events, which result in elevated risks up to three times higher than those for light rainfalls. As the global climate changes in the coming century, altered precipitation patterns are likely. The primary objective of this thesis is to estimate the potential impacts of climate change on traffic safety in two large Canadian urban regions: the Greater Toronto Area and Greater Vancouver. A secondary objective is to provide a framework or methodology for exploring this question. In accomplishing the primary objective, daily collision and climate records are utilized to establish an empirical estimate of present-day rainfall-related crash risk. This estimate is combined with results of a climate modelling exercise to arrive at a possible traffic safety future for urban Canada over the next 40 years. For the second objective, several important decisions related to data acquisition, compatibility, and completeness are considered, and the tradeoffs are mapped out and discussed, in order to provide guidance for future studies. Results indicate that over the next 40 years, Toronto is likely to see a mean annual increase in rain days of all intensities, resulting in marginally more collisions and casualties each year. Substantially more rainfall days are projected for Vancouver by mid-century, resulting in a small increase in annual incident counts. In both study regions, the greatest adverse safety impact is likely to be associated with moderate to heavy rainfall days (≥ 10 mm); this estimate is consistent with the greater risk increases associated with these conditions today, and suggests that attention should be paid to future changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events. Indeed, heavy rain days are likely to account for approximately half of all additional collision and casualty incidents.
Cite this work
Derrick Jackson Hambly (2011). Projected implications of climate change for rainfall-related crash risk. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/6087