You may consider the likely commute when negotiating a job offer with a different company or when looking at places to buy with your spouse. The length of the commute and how much time you spend on surface roads versus freeways can be major concerns as you make decisions about your living arrangements or employment.
Although you think about the daily banalities of your commute, you may fail to really consider how much risk comes with that daily drive to and from work. In addition to squeezing another 45 minutes a day from your schedule, your commute may be one of your biggest personal risk factors for severe injury or early death.
Many people are on the road at a very dangerous time of day
If you work a first-shift job, then your commute could actually occur during the second most dangerous time of the day based on crash statistics. When you look at when motor vehicle collisions occur, certain trends start to emerge.
As research by the National Safety Council (NSC) makes clear, nighttime driving is the most dangerous. Once it is dark, your chance of a crash is higher than it is during the day. However, the second most dangerous time of the day will likely be when you are on the road five days a week.
The NSC recognizes that the afternoon rush hour is also a very dangerous time to drive. Fatigue, alcohol use and heavy traffic all combine to make the hours between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. every afternoon some of the deadliest on the road.
Taking longer and arriving safely is always better
Maybe you frequently drive as fast as you can on your way home because you can’t wait to see your family. Perhaps you sometimes text at the wheel to confirm your schedule or let your family know you are on the way.
When you understand that the possibility of a poor outcome is higher during your afternoon drive home from work than at other times when you might be behind the wheel, you can start to make traffic safety a top priority during your afternoon commute. Adjusting your traffic behaviors to reflect known risk factors can help you minimize the possibility of a major motor vehicle collision.