The Most Dangerous Times to Be on the Road — and How to Prepare for Them
It is an unfortunate part of life that accidents happen, especially on the road. By definition, an accident is a random occurrence that defies prediction. However, many vehicle accidents can be predicted and prepared for by understanding the dangers you might face anytime you travel on the road.
Most Dangerous Travel Times
Propelling a vehicle that weighs several hundred pounds down a hard surface at up to 65 miles an hour comes with inherent dangers. We become desensitized to the risks because we travel by car frequently and in all conditions. Most people consider driving a necessity and do not think twice about jumping in the car to go to work, the store, a friend’s house or on a long trip for vacation.
Being aware of the most dangerous times to drive can help you stay alert and avoid accidents.
- Rush Hour: One of the most dangerous times to travel by car is when everyone else is doing the same. During the evening rush hour in most cities, the roads are filled with unhappy drivers who are anxious to get home. During the winter months, the dangers of rush-hour driving are compounded by darkness and freezing temperatures.
- After Dark: There are more risks to driving after dark than during daylight hours. Your depth perception is diminished by darkness, along with your ability to distinguish colors and your peripheral vision. More drivers on the road after dark tend to be tired, contributing to diminished response times and more accidents.
- Weekends: The increased number of people on the roads on weekends contributes to a larger number of accidents. Weekend drivers are not in a routine the same way weekday drivers are, mostly driving to and from work. On the weekends, people head out to distant locations or drive to random destinations around town.
- Holidays: The Fourth of July is one of the most dangerous holidays on the road. The combination of alcoholic celebrations and warm weather creates hazardous driving conditions. Drivers are more likely to engage in risky driving behaviors, like speeding, in the warm summer weather, and driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious hazard to everyone on the road. The night before Thanksgiving is also one of the biggest drinking days of the year and poses significant risks to drivers.
Whenever possible, you should avoid driving during these high-risk times to reduce your chances of getting in an accident. If you have to be on the road, stay alert and be aware that the drivers around you may not be focused on good driving behaviors.
Driving at Night Statistics
You might assume that driving at night in January is the most dangerous time to be on the road. The statistics may surprise you. August is the most deadly month of the year to be on the road and Saturday is the riskiest day of the week.
Night driving poses the added risk of driver fatigue. According to a recent study, 60% of adults admit to driving while they were tired. The number of people who believe they fell asleep behind the wheel is nearly 103 million. That does not make your odds of safe night driving very promising, even if you are not tired. Chances are, someone else on the road at night is too tired to drive safely.
The amount of time spent driving is not the only factor contributing to driver fatigue. Drivers may be tired before they get into the car because they worked a double shift or are traveling at a time of day when they are usually asleep. The monotony of highway driving can contribute to sleepiness, and the comfort of the seat and music on the radio may add to the danger.
Older drivers find it more difficult to see when it is dark out. The contrast of a dark road and bright headlights from oncoming cars can distort their view. Due to natural aging, a 50-year-old driver may require twice as much light to see what he could see when he was 30. Older drivers may be the most experienced on the road, but they suffer from more vision restrictions and far outnumber younger drivers.
The Most Dangerous Times for Teen Drivers
Young drivers face many risks on the road. The biggest problem is their lack of driving experience, but that cannot be remedied without the risk of getting out on the road. Teens, in general, tend to be risk-takers and they do not make the most cautious decisions. Since they lack extensive driving experience, they do not have instincts to rely on when conditions become dangerous.
Teenage drivers do have the fastest reflexes and best eye sight on the road, however, even after dark. The biggest dangers to teenage drivers are distractions that take their attention off the road. Young drivers can be distracted by other teens in the car, cell phones, music on the radio or even unfamiliar routes. Teenage drivers can present a great danger to others on the road.
The most dangerous times for teenagers to be on the road are between May and August, according to accident reports and fatalities. Many teens get their license or a car in the spring, right around the time of high school graduation. The summer weather and vacation from school give them many opportunities to get out on the roads.
A 2010 study revealed that 15.1% of kids aged 18-20 drove under the influence of alcohol while 5.8% of teens aged 16 and 17 did the same. In that same year, approximately 3,115 kids aged 13-19 died in motor vehicle accidents. Prom night and graduation night are especially dangerous times for teenage drivers. They are more likely to be distracted, driving late at night and under the influence of alcohol.
How to Stay Safe on the Road
Some accidents are random and cannot be avoided. Many of them, however, could be foreseen and avoided with some preparation. If you can avoid driving at the most dangerous times on the road, you will greatly reduce your risk of being involved in a motor vehicle collision.
Times to avoid the roads include:
- The summer months, especially if you are a teenager.
- After dark, especially around 2 a.m. when the bars close.
- Holidays, especially July 4th and Thanksgiving weekend.
- Whenever you are tired.
- Prom and graduation nights.
- Rush hour.
Here are some ideas to help you make the most of this information and remain as safe as possible.
- If you do not commute to work, driving to the store between 4 and 6 p.m. is not the best idea. If you do have to be on the road at that hour, remain alert. If you are on a long trip, this might be a good time to stop for coffee and let the commuters get home before you continue your drive.
- Limiting the cars on the road on prom night will increase the odds of all the teenagers getting home without injury. If you are a parent, be sure your teens have a responsible driver for prom and graduation night. Renting a limo is one way to keep them safe on the roads.
- Most professional drivers are limited by the number of consecutive hours they can drive without rest. Follow their example by stopping to rest on long drives. Do not get behind the wheel if you are tired or not properly rested. Driving can lull you to sleep very easily, even if you think you are not tired. When you feel tired, pull over to rest before continuing.
- Visiting relatives and friends on the holidays often requires a car trip. Keep your safety in mind when planning to travel for Thanksgiving or any other holiday. It is safer to plan your celebration the week before rather than take your chances on the roads with holiday traffic.
- Celebrating holidays is always fun, and often includes alcohol. Either plan your celebration to take place at home, or find a safe way to get home after the party. By driving home late at night after drinking, you are contributing to one of the most dangerous times to be on the road, putting yourself and many others at risk.
- In the winter months, it is hard to avoid driving after dark. Take special precautions when you drive after dark, and realize that your vision and that of the other drivers on the road is probably impaired. If you have the flexibility in your schedule, drive earlier in the day and avoid the roads once the sun goes down.
- Watching the sun go down from the driver’s seat of your convertible seems like a great way to enjoy a summer evening. The wind in your hair and the sun in your eyes remind you of what we wait all winter for. Summer is short, but it could be even shorter if you end up in a car accident. Find the best place to experience summer and stay put. Avoid driving around in the summer as much as possible to reduce your risk of serious injuries.
It is not possible to avoid all dangerous times on the roads, but if you are more conscientious of the risks, you can improve your chances of remaining safe.
Preparing for Road Dangers
Driving is inherently dangerous, so even if you are careful, there is a chance you could get into an accident. Here are some ways to mitigate the damage a potential accident could inflict:
- Keep Your Vehicle in Good Repair: Losing control of your vehicle due to a tire blowout, broken tie-rod or other mechanical failures can be dangerous. Most of these types of accidents can be avoided by proper vehicle maintenance. When you drive a broken car, you put yourself and others at increased risk.
- Maintain Documentation: Always have current insurance and registration cards handy in your vehicle. In case of an accident, these pieces of documentation can help emergency crews and facilitate road clean up, reducing the chance of a secondary accident.
- Pack a Safety Kit: Keep a set of safety equipment in your car. You may need anything from a snow brush to seat belt cutters in case of an emergency. Check with your insurance company for a comprehensive list of the items they recommend you carry for emergency situations.
- Stay off the Road: If your vehicle is disabled for any reason, stay in your car until help arrives. Unless the vehicle is on fire, that is the safest place for you. By standing on the side of the road or walking down the highway, you are in greater danger of serious injury because you are not protected by your vehicle. Put your flashers on and wait for the highway patrol to get to you.
- Slow Down: Many accidents are caused by excessive speed for driving conditions. Being late for work is no cause for endangering yourself and others. You will live and should simply plan to leave earlier next time. If you get in a car accident, there is a chance you will not live, and that is the tragic fact. Being late for an appointment is not professional, but the alternative is much worse.
If you are involved in a traffic accident, get help as soon as possible. Even if you do not think you are injured, it is a good idea to get an accident report. The police will record what happened and get the story from each driver and passenger involved. This documentation will be important later when dealing with your insurance company.
Physical injuries, especially soft tissue injuries, do not always show up right away. It can take time for your body to react to the injury by bruising or swelling. Sometimes you have to wait for the swelling to go down to see fractures or sprains clearly. Always seek a medical evaluation following a motor vehicle accident. Tell your doctor what happened and let him determine what, if any, follow-up care you need.
Sometimes devastating injuries do not develop at the time of the accident. Without good documentation of what happened and your medical condition, it can be tough to recover the funds you need to make you whole again. Insurance companies are often in a hurry to settle and close your case before the real injuries develop.
When you are in a car accident, you need medical attention, and then you need legal representation. You might be more vulnerable after the accident takes place than you were before it happened. On-going medical treatment is expensive, and a debilitating injury could prevent you from working to earn the money you need to support your family.
Let the legal experts at KBG Injury Law review your case to be sure your legal interests are protected. For a motor vehicle accident or any other personal injury, contact KBG today for a free consultation. We will help you get the results you deserve.