According to the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, the summer months are known as “the 100 deadliest days for drivers.” As fall approaches, the roads are no less dangerous. In some respects they may become more treacherous. This is especially true during certain times of the day, as well as on particular days of the week.
Studies conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that most accidents occur between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m.; also known as “rush hour”. A number of factors contribute to these findings. First, many more cars are on the road during this time of day. Most people are returning home from the workday, and some drivers have already had a few drinks during “happy hour.”
Second, afternoon drivers usually are mentally distracted. They are in a rush to pick up children from day care or to take them to extracurricular activities, or they may have had a terrible day at work (hence, a stop for a happy hour drink). Either way, drivers have a number of things on their minds and are more susceptible to being in an accident.
Workplace stress also contributes to aggressive driving; another important element in the danger of rush hour. When people have bad days at work, they are more likely to take their frustrations out when they are behind the wheel. Most drivers have a sense of personal space that extends to their vehicles, as well as certain parts of the road (i.e. a space to merge in to traffic, space between following cars). When that space is “invaded” by another driver, it may spark road rage, which greatly increases the likelihood of an accident.
NHTSA studies also found that out of all the days of the week, Saturday is the most dangerous. Like rush hour during the work week, more cars are on the road. More importantly, a greater number of younger drivers are on the road. Drivers between age 16 and 24 are more likely to use cell phones while driving than older drivers. They also drive at higher speeds and are less likely to use seatbelts, because they often have a false sense of their abilities (and the likelihood that they will be injured or killed in an accident). With these factors, it is no wonder that Saturday is the most dangerous day of the week to drive.
Despite these dangers, there are a number of things that drivers can do to be safe. Of course, staying off cell phones and obeying speed limits are essential. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), more than 80 percent of drivers believe distracted driving is a serious problem, and 75 percent say speeding contributes to accidents. Most importantly, drivers can avoid accidents by staying calm and alert behind the wheel.