• April 15th, 2014

As part of the Center for Advanced Public Safety (CAPS) at The University of Alabama’s ongoing studies to improve traffic safety in Alabama and the nation, a study was conducted to focus on the dramatic increase in crashes that occurred in Alabama as a result of the rare ice and snow storm that occurred beginning early on Tuesday, January 28th and continued throughout the day. Traffic was affected for most of the rest of the week.

In order to keep the difference between weekday and weekend traffic from creating a complicating factor, the entire last week (seven days) on January in 2013 and 2014 were used to make the comparisons. This would then account for the changes in traffic flow that might have resulted from the pre-storm warnings as well as the aftermath of the storm itself.

The following gives an overview comparison of the number of crashes by severity for the two weeks being compared:

Severity January 25-31, 2013 January 25-31, 2014
Fatal 14 12
Severe Injury 251 216
Possible Injury 178 201
Property Damage Only 1479 1921
TOTAL 1922 2350


The increase in the total number of crashes was quite significant, at 22%. However, this increase came totally from the lower severity crashes. Both fatal crashes and severe injury crashes decreased (a combined 14% decrease). This is not usual in weather-related crashes in that most motorists have the training and common sense to slow down when the pavement is slippery. In some cases around the urban areas, the traffic came to a standstill or was greatly impaired forcing drivers to slow down.