Climate change and road freight safety: A multidisciplinary exploration

David Jaroszweski*, Lee Chapman, Judith Petts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The freight and logistics sector is of significant importance as an enabler and driver of the global economy, but it is also inherently vulnerable to hazardous weather. Despite this, there is currently no quantitative assessment of how climate change may affect the sector. This paper applies multidisciplinary climate change impact assessment tools and conceptual frameworks to the road freight sector of Great Britain in order to identify potential future weather-related safety issues. Relationships between weather and freight accidents are determined using road accident data and meteorological observations, which are then used with climate change scenarios to arrive at projections of possible impacts across the regions of Great Britain. Included in the study are industry perceptions of future trends within the sector and wider economy which many affect freight's exposure and sensitivity to weather. These are elicited through interviews and an iterative expert Delphi study. Hence, unlike many other climate change impact assessments, this innovative study takes into account the potentially significant impact of socio-economic change (including institutional and operational). The results show that summer precipitation and winter ice-related accidents are likely to decrease across most of the country, whereas winter rain-related accidents are projected to increase. However, it is postulated that some of the impacts of climate change will be modified by reflexive behavioural change on the part of the driver and either institutional adaptation or complacency on the part of the road authorities. The paper concludes by framing the study in a range of future scenarios outlining how the socio-economic environment could influence the road transport network and how it is used, modifying the impact of climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-799
Number of pages15
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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