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Climate change will lead to fewer traffic accidents

15.02.2010
Climate change will lead to fewer traffic accidents in West Midlands, UK.

Research from the University of Gothenburg estimates climate change to decrease the number of days with temperatures below zero degrees in West Midlands. It will also reduce the number of traffic accidents - and the need for winter road maintenance may decrease by almost 40 percent.

A study lead by Anna Andersson explores the link between winter road conditions and traffic accidents in Sweden and in West Midlands, UK. Andersson considers four different types of slipperiness, from snowy and icy roads to above-zero temperatures with slippery ice patches, and how climate change may affect these conditions in the next 90 years.

Andersson concludes that by the 2080s, West Midlands will have an average of 28 frosty days per year compared to today's 69. Theoretically, this will reduce the number of traffic accidents by 43%. It may also lead to a decrease in the need for winter road maintenance by 38%.

However, the total number of accidents is not determined entirely by the number of below-zero days per year, since the road conditions are in fact the most dangerous at temperatures close to zero.

'Roads can still be dangerous when the temperature rises above zero. 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 for accidents', says Andersson, at the Department of Earth Sciences.

For more information:
Anna Andersson, Department of Earth Sciences Centre, Physical Geography, University of Gothenburg, SWEDEN
mail: annaa@gvc.gu.se
Tel: +46 (0)31 - 786 2944
Fax: +46 (0)31 - 786 1986

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:
http://gupea.ub.gu.se/dspace/handle/2077/21547
http://www.gu.se/

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