Global warming – fewer road accidents?

February 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

Here’s an upside to climate change (apart from warmer summers for us here in the UK):  fewer traffic accidents in the West Midlands. Researcher Anna Andersson, of the University of Gothenburg’s Department of Earth Sciences, has calculated that the lower number of days with below-zero temperatures will mean fewer accidents on slippery roads, as well as a much-reduced need for road maintenance.

Andersson (pictured) compared road accidents and winter road conditions in Sweden and in the West Midlands, looking at the number of accidents on snow and ice, and in above-zero temperatures with slippery conditions. She calculated that by the 2080s, there will be an average of only 28 frosty days a year in the West Midlands, compared to 69 at the moment, and thus a 43% reduction in accidents.

However, there will still be a risk: “Roads can still be dangerous when the temperature rises above zero”, says Andersson. “When we don’t think it’s slippery, and even the thermometer tells us it’s not slippery, we tend to drive as if it were summer roads. But temperatures around zero often lead to slippery spots, increasing the risk”.


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