When Is It Most Dangerous to Drive?
August 13th, 2020 by Fix Auto USA
Any time you get behind the wheel of a car it involves a certain amount of risk. We can’t control the world, much less other drivers. Yet, there are certain days and times of the day when that risk is significantly higher. Knowing the most dangerous day to drive and the most dangerous time to drive is important information, because then you can reduce your risk by choosing not to drive during those times. Or, if you need to drive during those times, you can be more vigilant and use your defensive driving skills to help anticipate and avoid a collision.
Most dangerous time to drive
A study from Avvo, based on data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) for 2016, concluded that the most dangerous time to drive is from 4:00 p.m. to 6:59 p.m., during after-work rush hour. In fact, if you drive during those hours, the likelihood of dying from a car crash is 85 percent higher.
And although it may seem counter-intuitive, the risk of an auto collision is higher during daily afternoon and evening rush hour than it is during the morning rush. That’s probably due to so many people leaving work around the same time, meaning more cars are merging lanes and jockeying for position as they race to get home. Take increased traffic congestion and add impatient, distracted, possibly intoxicated drivers to the mix, and you’ve got all the necessary ingredients for an accident.
Here’s AVVO’s breakdown of the FARS data:
6,201 accidents from 4:00 p.m to 6:59 p.m.
6,067 between 7:00 p.m. and 9:59 p.m.
3,345 between 7:00 a.m. and 9:59 a.m.
Most dangerous day to drive
If the most dangerous time to drive is during after-work rush hour, what is the most dangerous day to drive? According to the FARS 2016 data, the most dangerous day to drive is Saturday. In fact, that year there were 6,802 fatalities across the country due to auto collisions. On Saturdays, the most dangerous time to drive is from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Sunday. Friday (5,826 fatalities) and Sunday (5,809 fatalities) are right behind Saturday in the ranking.
Why Saturday? The American Automobile Association (AAA) reports that 31% of drunk driving fatalities occur on the weekend. Fatal crashes are also four times more likely to occur at night than during the day.
Most dangerous date to drive
Holidays are a time of fun, enjoyment and visiting family and friends. Unfortunately, they’re also among some of the most dangerous days to drive. Partly because more people are on the road, but also because holidays and alcohol go hand in hand. As everyone knows, alcohol consumption and driving don’t mix.
Using FARS data on the number of auto fatalities in 2016, the most dangerous date to drive is Memorial Day, which saw 312 people lose their life that year in vehicle fatalities. In 2021, Memorial Day falls on May 31.
Other dates based on the same data that are also dangerous to drive on:
Labor Day – 308
July 4th – 307
The summer isn’t good for teen drivers either, with the top seven days for auto fatalities occurring during this period. In fact, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is often called “The 100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers.
Easter – 280
Thanksgiving – 258
New Year’s – 245
Christmas – 231
If you can’t avoid driving during high-risk hours or days, here are some tips that could save your life and the lives of your passengers:
In congested, stop-and-go traffic, there is also an increased likelihood of an accident. When traffic is congested, such as after-work rush hour, adjust your driving style and frame of mind. This means changing from being an aggressive driver to being a defensive driver. Instead, have a heightened awareness of the road conditions, the cars around you, and the flow of traffic.
Minimize distractions such as texting, excessive talking with your passengers, and cranking the music too loud. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that distracted driving was responsible for almost 3,500 deaths in 2016, and the numbers are not much better today.
Avoid unsafe driving behaviors like drinking and driving, texting, talking on your cell phone, and driving while sleep deprived. Most important of all, put your seat belt on, because that one factor alone can determine if you make it home safely.
And by all means, to the extent you can, avoid driving during the most dangerous time to drive (after-work rush hour traffic) and the most dangerous day to drive (late Saturday night and into Sunday morning), as well as on Memorial Day and other key holidays.
Even then, there’s no guarantee that, despite your awareness, a reckless driver won’t ram into you on your way home from work. But you can’t control them. Focus on what you can control, such as avoiding the most dangerous time to drive and being extra aware when driving. You’ll know that you’re doing everything in your power to reduce the odds of a car accident happening and to protect you and your loved ones.
Be safe out there.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto Santa Rosa, a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing Sonoma County and the surrounding areas.
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