2016 has seen thirteen “billion dollar disasters” that have claimed dozens of lives. Large-scale weather disasters may be most costly, but when it comes to people’s lives, weather related car accidents are deadlier. On average, nearly 6,000 people are killed and over 445,000 people are injured in weather-related crashes each year. For comparison, the ten year average for the nine weather phenomenon listed below is around 550. That’s more than ten times!
On average, there are over 5,748,000 vehicle crashes each year. Approximately 22% of these crashes – nearly 1,259,000 – are weather-related. Weather-related crashes are defined as those crashes that occur in adverse weather or on slick pavement. The vast majority of most weather-related crashes happen on wet pavement and during rainfall: 73% on wet pavement and 46% during rainfall. A much smaller percentage of weather-related crashes occur during winter conditions: 17% during snow or sleet, 13% occur on icy pavement and 14% of weather-related crashes take place on snowy or slushy pavement. Only 3% happen in the presence of fog.
By crash type for an average year, roughly 15% of fatal crashes, 19% of injury crashes, and 23% of property-damage-only (PDO) crashes occur in the presence of adverse weather and/or slick pavement. That is on an annual basis, nearly 5,100 fatal crashes, over 304,800 injury crashes and nearly 922,200 PDO crashes occur in adverse weather or on slick pavement.
Source: Ten-year averages from 2005 to 2014 analyzed by Booz Allen Hamilton, based on NHTSA data, tables and information from US DOT Federal Highway Administration.