Potential shifts in summer precipitation due to an enhanced greenhouse effect indicate the possibility of more rainy days and heavier rains in the Midwest (U.S.). This study assessed the effects of such changes on transportation in Chicago, Illinois, using a 3-year period of data. Traffic accidents in the metro area doubled on rainy days, with 30% more accidents in more densely populated urban areas than in suburban-rural areas. During rain events, accident severity (number of injuries) was 55% higher in suburban and rural areas where less dense but higher speed traffic flows exist than in the city. Rainy days during dry months produced more accidents and injuries than during normal or wet months. Three times as many accidents occurred during heavy rain periods as during non-rain conditions. Rain had a negligible influence on weekday traffic volume on busy highways, but there was a 9% decrease in traffic volume on rainy weekends. A 3-5% decrease in ridership of public transportation occurred on rainy days, with most decreases during midday. Nationally, 27% of all fatality-producing aircraft accidents occurred during rainy weather conditions, as did 57% of the 30-min flight delays at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Results suggest that given continued transportation use patterns extend forward, a future climate with more summer rainy days, somewhat higher rain rates, and more storms would mean more total vehicular accidents and more total injuries in these accidents, decreased ridership on public transit systems, and more aircraft accidents and delays. A drier climate would likely experience fewer moderate to heavy rain events but results show that rain events during drier conditions produced a greater frequency of accidents and injuries per event than during wet conditions.

  • Availability:
  • Corporate Authors:

    Kluwer Academic Publishers

    P.O. Box 17
    Dordrecht,   Netherlands 
  • Authors:
    • Changnon, S A
  • Publication Date: 1996


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: p. 481-494
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00792593
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 14 2000 12:00AM