New research has revealed that there’s a 10 minute period during winter days when road crashes spike.
Analysis of accident data by industry specialist AX found that almost a fifth of road collisions occur during the evening commute period between 4pm and 6pm.
However, it’s the window between 5pm and 5:10pm that’s most treacherous, with around 15 per cent of all rush-hour shunts taking place as people leave their places of work.
Treacherous 10 minutes: A new crash analysis study has found there is a small window in the afternoon when winter vehicle shunts spike
Some 57,000 vehicle accidents were reviewed as part of a study carried out for automotive and insurance partners of AX.
It discovered that almost one in six prangs during the evening peak occurred in the 10 minute period after 5pm, making it the most error-prone time of day for drivers.
The report suggested that motorists who clock off for the day just 10 minutes later half their risk of being involved in an accident.
The spike in winter collisions is likely caused by a combination of shorter daylight hours, difficult road conditions and driver error.
However, the data points at motorists being more alert and cautious during the morning commute – even when it’s dark – than they are after a weary shift at work.
Breaking the day into 12 two-hour windows, accident rates between 6am and 8am account for just six per cent of daily crashes, and 8am to 10am contributes 13 per cent to the total of prangs.
Share of accidents across the day during winter months
00:00 – 02:00: 0.81%
02:00 – 04:00: 0.47%
04:00 – 06:00: 0.64%
06:00 – 08:00: 5.80%
08:00 – 10:00: 13.06%
10:00 – 12:00: 13.11%
12:00 – 14:00: 15.62%
14:00 – 16:00: 16.04%
16:00 – 18:00: 17.47%
18:00 – 20:00: 10.89%
20:00 – 22:00: 4.19%
22:00 -24:00: 1.92%
The 10-minute window after 5pm is the most lethal on the roads in the months of November through to March, AX found
Changes of being involved in an accident later in the day are much higher.
In fact, each of the two-hour time slots between midday and 8pm consistently account for more than 10 per cent of crashes.
The study also showed a clear rise in shunts in the coldest months compared to the warmest.
Accident rates during the period of November to March jump by eight per cent compared with the summer season, AX found.
Over a third of the accidents during winter periods involve one car running into the back of another – which tends to be caused by motorists failing to leave an adequate gap to the car in front to compensate for wet, icy or less grippy tarmac.
Another 32 per cent of winter shunts are caused by driven motor colliding with another that’s parked, usually caused by skidding on slippery roads.
The third most common cause of car crashes during winter months is one driver pulling out on another, the stats show
Other common crashes include drivers pulling out on each other (13 per cent) and collisions during lane changes (seven per cent).
The severity of injuries caused by these crash types could be reduced by the inclusion of revolutionary external airbags, according to German designers this week.
Top 5 types of winter road crashes
1. Hit in rear – 34.3%
2. Hit whilst parked – 31.5%
3. Third party pulled in front of car – 12.9%
4. Third party reversed into stationary car – 7.8%
5. Lane Change – 6.7%
Automotive parts manufacturer ZF Friedrichshafen (ZF), which produces inflatable side protectors for cars, claims they can cut casualty rates by 40 per cent.
Incredibly, the fourth most common crash type (eight per cent) is when a driver reverses into a stationary vehicle – a shocking revelation when you consider that most modern cars come equipped with parking sensors and cameras.
Commenting on the findings from the study, Scott Hamilton-Cooper, director of sales and operations at AX, said: ‘It is little surprise to see the majority of accidents take place during the afternoon and evening hours when many of us are busy trying to get home or rushing to pick up our kids.’
Crashes spike when the clocks go back
AX’s study supports recent research that suggests a rise in vehicle crashes when the clocks go back an hour in October.
The RAC Foundation said last year that the annual changing of the clock heralded an increase of around 20 road crashes per day in which someone is hurt.
Our work suggests that it’s darker days and winter weather together that cause the spike in road safety risk
Steve Gooding, RAC Foundation
Analysis of police data from the past six years shows that in the two weeks after the one-hour adjustment there are an average of 278 more personal injury collisions than in the previous two weeks.
Backing AX’s findings, RAC Foundation said three quarters of the extra collisions occur in the afternoons.
RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: ‘Every year at about this time there are calls to abandon the spring forward, fall-back rhythm of daylight saving time, but our work suggests that it’s darker days and winter weather together that cause the spike in road safety risk.
‘Rain, snow, ice, wind, mist and fog are all factors which make driving more challenging and – the data suggests – more dangerous.
‘Wrapped up snugly in our warm and comfortable cars it’s easy to feel immune to the conditions outside, yet year in, year out, they take their toll on thousands of road users.’
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