Heatwaves and Motor Vehicle Accidents: Extremely Hot Weather is Associated with an Increased Risk of a Car Crash

by Doug Zanes | Last Updated: June 1, 2018

Car Crash Risks & Heatwaves

Extremely Hot Weather is Associated with an Increased Risk of a Car Crash

As temperatures rise in Phoenix, your risk of a car crash may increase as well.  That is what Spanish researchers found. In a 2015 study,risk of motor vehicle accidents increased on heat wave days. Particularly with regard to driver performance-associated factors, such as distractions, driver fatigue or sleepiness. The results indicate a need for drivers to take extra safety precautions when driving in warm temperatures.  Let’s take a closer look at this analysis.

As described in Environmental Health Perspectives, these researchers analyzed the link between daily counts of motor vehicle accidents with dead or injured victims and daily temperatures or heat wave occurrences between May 15 through October 15 of the years 2000-2011 in Catalonia, Spain. The study also accounted for concurrent reasons for the 118,489 accidents, including factors such as bad weather, traffic violations and driver-performance related causes such as driver error, distraction, fatigue or sleepiness.

The researchers found that the car accident risk increased by 2.9% during heatwave days, and that having a driver performance-related cause increased by 7.7% during those days. They also found that the risk of driver performance-related crashes significantly increased by 1.1% for each 1°C increase in maximum temperature per day.

These results aren’t too surprising. As the researchers point out, other studies have found that drivers in hot environments tend to make more technical driving errors: They drift out of their lanes, make more large steering adjustment, and miss more signals. These drivers also report more fatigue and have a lower overall driving performance.

What does this mean?

So, does this mean that Phoenix car crashes are more likely as heatwave season approaches? The study seems to suggest so.  But there are precautions you can take when driving in excessive heat to avoid a crash. These include:

  • Avoid driving while fatigued or sleepy. Pull over and rest if you feel tired or show other signs of fatigue, such as missing your exit, drifting from your lane or hitting a rumble strip.
  • Avoid driving during the hottest part of the day.This is between noon and 2 pm.
  • Drink plenty of water before and after your trip. Drinking water helps avoid dehydration, which can cause dizziness and confusion.

If you’ve been involved in a heat-related car accident in or around Phoenix, contact Zanes Law at (866) 499-8989 to see how we can help you.

Facing an immigration issue? Our team can also help with these as well. Please visit www.immigrationinformation.org to learn more or schedule a consultation.

Doug Zanes
Doug Zanes: Founding Attorney Raised in Douglas, Arizona, and went to college at Arizona State University and graduated from law school at St. Mary’s University School of Law in Texas. Doug began practicing law in Phoenix Arizona in 1997.
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