Each day, car accidents cause tragic fatalities, catastrophic injuries and destruction. However, the frequency of motor vehicle crashes is not static and can vary significantly throughout the day.
Understanding these fluctuations can help keep drivers safe and aware on the road.
Peak time for crashes
In general, fatal accidents are more likely to happen at night or during the twilight hours, with 35% occurring between 6:00 p.m. and midnight. As day transitions into night, the glare of the setting sun, as well as the ensuing evening darkness, can impair visibility and reaction times. This contributes to an increased risk of accidents on the road. Alcohol consumption is more common during these later hours. Additionally, twilight is when fatigue can set in for many motorists.
By contrast, the frequency of nonfatal crashes peaks earlier. Increased daytime traffic contributes to a high number of collisions in the afternoon. However, accidents during the day are less likely to involve intoxicated drivers and result in fewer fatalities. Furthermore, traffic violations like speeding and reckless driving are less common in the afternoon than at night.
During the spring and summer months, the timeframe between 8 p.m. and midnight sees the most fatal crashes. Longer daylight hours encourage people to stay out later, potentially leading to more nighttime driving. Additionally, summer gatherings and social activities often extend into the evening, increasing the number of vehicles on the road during this time.
The period from November through March differs. During the colder months, fatal car crashes are more likely to occur at an earlier hour. Shorter days and inclement weather conditions like ice and snow can impact road safety during winter evenings.
Although accidents are generally more likely to occur during the evening, there are important variations to these patterns that drivers should know.