By Bianca Barragan, January 6, 2015
[Image by Noah Deneau via CityLab]
Popular explanations from Reddit, where the graphic was first posted, as summarized by CityLab, include: "Californians tailgate too much; they're so used to drought they've forgotten how to drive in rain; [and] the state's arid weather causes copious build-ups of roadway oil, creating slippery, hazardous surfaces when the drops start falling." Those are all logical-sounding and may even be true, but there isn't a chart yet for cities that are famously soaked, like Seattle or Portland, or even a sort of middle ground city (any place not in the middle of a megadrought would do) to compare LA's increased crash rate to.
The chart was also made with the assumption that there are the same amount of cars on the road in wet weather as there are in dry weather. But it's possible that there are more cars on the road in the rain, as people who otherwise would have walked, biked, or taken public transit decide to drive instead. The guy who made the graphic has been contacted by an employee of the NOAA who said that the organization is working on rolling out a similar analysis of the relationship between rain and traffic collisions, so there's still a chance this LA stereotype can be put to rest (or definitively confirmed).
· Proof that California's Drivers Can't Handle the Rain [CityLab]