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Most Dangerous Days and Times to Drive

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You may pride yourself on being the safest driver in the world — and perhaps you really are — but there’s very little you can do to control other drivers’ behavior. That’s why in addition to being careful, considerate, and following the rules of the road, you need to always drive defensively. Among other things, this means anticipating other drivers’ moves and assuming that someone at some point will do something reckless or potentially deadly.

Another way to stay safe on the road is to avoid the road on certain days and times. While this technique is not always possible, if you can stay home until driving conditions calm down a bit, you’ll avoid a ton of frustration and a heap of trouble that’s just waiting to happen.

Below, you’ll discover the most dangerous times to get behind the wheel and get tips on how to enhance you and your passengers’ safety. Below are the days, times, and holidays that statistics show to be the deadliest for drivers.

 

Time of day

The evening commute comes as no surprise to be a time when increased accidents happen. Rush hour — weeknights between 3 pm to 6 pm is the most dangerous time on the road. Even with many still working remotely post-pandemic, this period still sees more drivers, more congestion, more frayed tempers, and, as a result, more collisions. One caveat: the most dangerous time of the day for fatal accidents is Saturday night between 9 pm and midnight, based on data from the NHTSA. This makes sense when you consider that this is when more DUI arrests are likely to happen as alcohol consumption plays a major part in these traffic fatalities.

Below is a breakdown of how many crashes occur on each day of the week and how many fatalities occur annually:


Source: NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts 2019: A Compilation of Motor Vehicle Crash Data

   

Day

That would be…Friday based on data from the NHTSA. The agency reports that there were 1,152,000 total crashes reported on this day in 2019. You’ve got the same high volume of drivers on the road anxious to get home from work. (Some may even have joined their colleagues for a quick happy hour drink before getting behind the wheel.) In addition to tired commuters, you also have more cars on the road as people head out to start their weekend away.

 

Month

According to the report, October proves to be the worst month for auto accidents. Several factors contribute to the tenth month being the deadliest. The change from cold to warm brings people outside to enjoy the great outdoors. In particular, summer and fall are great times to take advantage of outdoor activities. May through October are the months with the most vehicle miles traveled. The unfortunate aspect of having so many cars on the road during the warmer months is a correlation to road fatalities. The more cars on the road, the more fatalities.

Travel tip - In 2021 the month with the lowest travel on urban highways was January.


Source: NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts 2019: A Compilation of Motor Vehicle Crash Data

 

Holiday

Independence Day: Our nation’s birthday wins the prize for the deadliest driving day, with alcohol and congested roads being the key factors. From 2011 to 2021, an average of 2,743 deaths occurred every year on July 4. Coming in a close second is July 3 since many Americans take to the highways to visit family and friends and celebrate the holiday.

Labor Day Weekend: Many of the accident fatalities in September happen over the long holiday weekend for the same reasons as July 4.

Thanksgiving: This is one of the busiest travel times of the year in the US. The Wednesday preceding turkey day sees the highest volume of traffic as many Americans head home for the holiday.

Christmas: Inclement weather, stressed out shoppers, seething parking lots, and aggressive drivers all contribute to making “the most wonderful time of the year” also one of the most dangerous times to be on the roads.

New Year’s Day: The day after New Year’s Eve ranks in the top five deadliest driving days of the entire year. According to the NHTSA, (and no big surprise) the first day of the year has the highest number of alcohol-related traffic deaths.

 

Avoid the Danger

While the information above may have you planning on never taking your car out of the garage again, rest assured you don’t have to give up driving. There are tips and tricks to help you avoid the busiest times on the road. Use apps such as Waze or Google maps to figure out the optimal time to set out. Ask your boss if you can work from home or follow a flextime schedule or consider sharing your ride so you can take advantage of the carpool lane.

And if you absolutely have to get out there when the going’s tough, remembering a few simple pointers will help keep you and your passengers safe.

  • Don’t start the car until everyone has buckled up.
  • Remove the temptations (smartphones) that cause distracted driving
  • Make sure your headlights and brake lights are working
  • Obey speed limits and signs
  • During the holidays, alcohol is more prevalent, so if you are planning to drink, designate a driver and never get behind the wheel after drinking.
  • Pull over if you’re tired on a long drive

 

 

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Disclaimer:

The above content is for informational purposes only and is not a direct representation of coverages offered by Wawanesa or its policies. The information does not refer to any specific contract of insurance and does not modify any definitions, provisions, exclusions or limitations expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. All references within the above content are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. The terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in a claim are determinative as to whether an accident or other loss is covered. To understand the coverage under your current policy, please log into the account management platform to review your policy or contact an agent directly.