It certainly seems reasonable to think so. Logic and instinct tell us that we should expect to see more car accidents at times when there are more cars on the road: if you’ve got more vehicles trying to use the same limited amount of roadway at the same time, more accidents seems like a natural outcome.
As it happens, that’s exactly how it works. Data compiled from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety give us some insight on the most frequent days and times of day for car accidents. According to those sources, data from 2010 shows that the three-hour block between the hours of 6 and 9 p.m. see more car accidents than any other three-hour time period.
That makes sense, because that time period overlaps neatly with the evening rush hour. Thousands of drivers, all trying to get home quickly after a long day at work, all jostling with each other for position on our already-crowded freeways.
Similarly, the early-morning hours before 5 a.m. see the fewest overall accidents - but there’s a catch: These accidents are more likely to involve a fatality than accidents that happen at other times. Again, that makes intuitive sense, because even though there are fewer cars on the road in the middle of the night, it’s during these hours that irresponsible people are more likely to be driving drunk after a night out.
How can you avoid rush-hour car accidents?
We don’t always have much of a choice over when we have to drive, which means that sometimes we have to be on the road at these dangerous times of day.
While you can never completely prevent an accident from happening (there are always potential factors that are just beyond your control), there are several simple things you can do to greatly reduce your risk:
- Wear a seat belt. Seat belts save lives. If you do get in an accident, your chances of surviving are much higher if you’re belted in.
- Don’t drink and drive. Driving while impaired is one of the dumbest things you can do. The chances of you hurting yourself or someone else in a car accident go up dramatically when you’re intoxicated.
- Put the phone down. Smart phones come with a lot of built-in distractions. Unfortunately, they just don’t mix well with safe driving. Keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road means you’ll spot potential threats sooner, and be better able to avoid them.
- Don’t drive aggressively. Aggressive behavior has a tendency to overwhelm good judgement. Keep a safe following distance, don’t change lanes suddenly, and take a deep breath and count to ten if someone cuts you off.
- Keep your head up. Paying attention to what’s going on around you is critical to avoiding accidents. It’s easy to put our minds on auto-pilot while we’re driving, but it’s also dangerous.