3033.0: Monday, November 13, 2000 - Board 3

Abstract #15599

Motor vehicle crashes during the 1997/98 El Nino phenomena in Los Angeles County

Jody Kristen Durden, Kimberley I. Shoaf, DrPH, and Linda B. Bourque, PhD. Center for Public Health and Disaster Relief, University of California Los Angeles, Box 951772, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, (310) 825-1019, jkdurden@ucla.edu

To evaluate if El Nino affected the motor vehicle crash rate in Los Angeles County. Common beliefs tells us that abnormal weather patterns result in an increase in motor vehicle crashes. An abnormal weather pattern as long term and extreme as the 1997/98 El Nino phenomena in Southern California may not only have caused accidents due to rain, but also due to other potential accident predictors such as changing travel/ commute routes and schedules. Knowledge of crash rates in relation to weather may allow us to find ways to increase the safety of our roads. Data were collected through an interview which followed-up on the 1994 Northridge Earthquake Study. The 414 respondents were asked questions regarding their experience with El Nino, including involvement in motor vehicle crashes in the past year, injuries resulting from the crash, and time of day, weather and month at time of the crash. Rates were compared to data from the Los Angeles Police Department and California Highway Patrol. Of those interviewed, 6% had been involved in a motor vehicle accident within the past year; 35% of those had been injured. Motor vehicle crash rates were consistent across month, time of day and weather conditions. Data were comparable to that reported by the Highway Patrol and Los Angeles Police Department. While weather may contribute to motor vehicle crashes, this data does not appear to support an increase in crashes or injuries as a result of the El Nino phenomena.

Learning Objectives: Describe trends in motor vehicle crashes during the 1997/98 El Nino year. Describe the relationship between time of day and crash rates. Describe the relationship between month of year and weather and crash rates

Keywords: Motor Vehicles, Disasters

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA