Motor-vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of preventable non-fatal injuries and injury-related deaths across the United States. Nobody ever wants to get into a car accident, and yet no one can ever predict when it will happen to them. Realistically, all you can do is prepare for the chance that it occurs. To this end, it is important to learn when and where most car accidents happen.
Common Areas Where Car Accidents Happen
You might assume that an unfamiliar area factors heavily into the chances of an accident occurring, however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the majority of car accidents occur close to home.
Most fatal car accidents will take place within 25 miles of the driver’s home. For non-fatal accidents, 52% happen within 5 miles, and 77% happen within 15 miles.
Why is that?
Familiar streets can be more dangerous due to drivers’ tendency to zone out or go on “auto-pilot” as they drive closer to home. They may fail to actively observe their surroundings as they feel comfortable with how well they know the area. When there is poor visibility, drivers may rely on their memory of the road and end up side-swiping or rear-ending a parked car that they did not expect to be present.
In addition, when people are running late or are keen on returning from work or school, they may drive less safely in the area near their home. Drivers returning home after drinking at a bar also contribute to the amount of accidents in their area.
Other common areas where car accidents happen are urban areas, stoplights and intersections, parking lots, and traffic jams.
Urban vs Rural Areas
According to the analysis published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, fatal accidents across the United States occur slightly more often in urban areas (55%) compared to rural areas (45%). This may be expected due to a higher density of people living in urban areas, but rural areas still make up for nearly half of all fatal crashes despite only 19% of the total population living in those areas.
The prevalent types of fatal crashes also differ between urban and rural areas. In urban areas, deaths at intersections as well as pedestrian and bicycle deaths are more prevalent. In rural areas, the number of deaths on high-speed roads, large truck occupant deaths, and passenger vehicle occupant deaths is higher.
This may be due to long stretches of open, empty road causing drivers to become drowsy, less alert, or more reckless. In both rural and urban areas, 53-54% of fatal crashes were single-vehicle crashes, highlighting the importance of safe driving even on empty roads.
Stoplights and Intersections
As mentioned, deaths at intersections are more common in urban (33%) rather than rural (16%) areas. Intersections are typically busy areas, and a single confused or distracted driver can cause harm to the vehicles around them.
Common causes of accidents at stoplights and intersections are:
- Braking too harshly or not braking on time at a stoplight, leading to rear-end collisions
- Getting confused about who has right of way and making incorrect movements that disrupt the flow of traffic
- Making turns without enough time or space to complete the maneuver
- Drunk drivers that run red lights or disregard rules, posing significant risk to other vehicles
Parking lots may seem like a strange environment for a car accident, as most of the cars within are parked and stationary, but drivers in parking lots are often distracted. They are typically more focused on getting to their destination than safe driving practices. If a parking lot is relatively empty, some drivers may feel comfortable using their phones or speeding. Other times, drivers may run through stop signs and broadside other vehicles, back into another vehicle while pulling out of a parking spot, or damage other vehicles when parking in a tight spot.
When cars are packed tightly next to each other, fender benders and rear-end collisions are common. In addition, the delays caused by traffic jams can result in short tempers, heightening instances of aggressive driving. Drivers that attempt to weave in and out of traffic or drive faster than conditions allow (e.g. traffic due to icy roads during the winter) can cause serious accidents.
When Do Most Car Accidents Happen?
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), most motor-vehicle accidents and deaths occur during the summer months. Fatal crashes tend to peak on Saturdays, being common over the weekend, and nonfatal crashes tend to peak on Fridays, being common over the weekdays.
This is likely due to a higher amount of people traveling on the road for longer periods of time, such as for vacations, getaways, or other leisure activities. Winter may have more dangerous conditions overall because of hazardous snow and ice on the roads, but fewer people are out and about, leading to a lower volume of accidents.
Drunk driving is also more common during weekends and holidays, and five of the holidays with the highest rates of car accidents are:
- Memorial Day
- Labor Day
- Independence Day
- Father’s Day
- Cinco de Mayo
What To Do After a Car Accident
Sometimes, despite your utmost care in practicing safe driving and avoiding common areas and times for car accidents, they still happen.
The most important step after an accident is to seek medical assistance, no matter the severity of your injuries. You may have injuries that are not immediately visible, and prompt identification will be important to your future health. Afterward, you will want to report the accident to the authorities.
If the accident was the result of another driver’s carelessness or negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, including medical expenses, loss of income, or other losses resulting from the accident. In this event, get the assistance of experienced Atlanta car accident lawyers at Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines. Our team is always ready to fight for your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.