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Is climate change adding to the number of fatal car accidents?

The number of fatal traffic accidents has increased steadily in recent years. In 2015, road deaths climbed by over 7 percent, according to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It increased another 8 percent in 2016, according to the most recent data available.

There are numerous potential causes, including the increased use of smartphones, more alcohol and drug use, and an increase in the overall number of vehicles on the road. One recently published study points to a surprising factor: climate change.

Climate change may affect numbers, according to epidemiologist

A retired Yale University epidemiologist (a medical doctor who studies the incidences and distribution of health concerns over a broad population) has suggested that warming temperatures may play a role in the increase in traffic fatalities over the last several years.

According to the research of Leon Robertson, warmer weather and increased rainfall has led to people driving more. The more people on the road, the more accidents we have. Accidents also increase in inclement weather, and a higher rainfall in parts of the country may be a part of the spike in accidents seen since 2015.

Human mistakes are still the direct cause

The study does not suggest that drivers are not responsible for safe driving. Instead, it examines the overall impact that more driving has on the risk for a fatal accident over a broad population. Individually, the causes for accidents remain the same – smartphones, drunk driving and speeding among them.

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