The Costs of Snow on the New York State Thruway

Authors: David Call*, Ball State University
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Climatology and Meteorology, Transportation Geography
Keywords: hazards, weather, snow, transportation, crashes
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 51
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Snow has numerous effects on traffic, including reduced traffic volumes, greater crash risk, and increased travel times. This research examines how snow affects crash risk, traffic volume, and toll revenue on the New York State Thruway. Daily data from January for 10 years (2010-2019) were analyzed for the Thruway between the Pennsylvania state line in western New York and Syracuse. // Anywhere from 35-50% of crashes are associated with inclement weather, with smaller impacts, proportionally, in areas with greater traffic volumes. As expected, snow was the primary culprit when weather was a factor. "Unsafe speed" was the most common cause of crashes in inclement weather with all other factors (e.g., animals, drowsiness) much less likely to play a role. The percentage of crashes resulting in an injury did not change significantly with inclement conditions when compared to crashes occurring in fair conditions, and there were too few fatal crashes to make any inferences about them. // Daily snowfall rates predicted about 30% of the variation in crash numbers, with every two inches of snowfall resulting in an additional crash, except in Buffalo where two inches of snow resulted in an additional 2.6 crashes. Confirming earlier results, daily snowfall had a large impact on passenger vehicle counts while commercial vehicle counts were less affected. Revenue data showed a similar pattern, with passenger revenue typically decreasing by 3-5% per inch of snow, while commercial revenue decreases were between 1 and 4 percent per inch of snow.

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