In 2018, fatal motor vehicle crashes took 36,560 lives in the U.S.
Though the rate is falling, deaths on the road are in the top ten causes of death for younger people.
So every time you get into a car, you’re at risk for getting into an accident. The more time you spend on the road—commuting to and from work every weekday— the more you expose yourself to the risk.
What are your chances of being in a fatal collision? It depends a lot on when and where you drive.
Here are some of the most common places where car accidents happen and what you can do:
Where do most car accidents happen?
While car accidents can happen anywhere, there are a few hot spots to look out for when you’re driving.
Stopping and starting can be annoying when driving in the city. Especially when it seems like your timing is off and when you get to another stoplight it turns red again.
But surprisingly, fatal car crashes tend to happen in rural areas.
In 2017, 46 percent of fatal car crashes happened in rural areas. More pedestrian and cyclist crashes occur in urban areas, but a bigger portion of fatal passenger vehicle and truck crashes take place on high-speed roads in rural areas.
Ever misjudged how much time you’d need to brake at a stoplight?
Rear-end collisions tend to happen at stoplights. Sometimes it’s because a distracted driver braked too late because they didn’t realize it’s a red light. Other times a car has faulty brakes.
While these types of accidents aren’t always fatal, they can lead to injury and car damage.
Intersections have drivers confused
Who has the right-of-way?
Intersections can be very confusing for drivers. Not knowing who has the right-of-way can lead drivers to make risky turns that could lead to side-impact collisions.
Parking lots and garages
Many accidents occur in parking lots and garages. Hitting a parked car while backing out of a tiny parking spot is common.
Parking lots and garages have low speed limits and there are signs everywhere. But high volumes of pedestrians and vehicles can lead to collisions.
Your own neighborhood poses the biggest threat
Yes, driving while drowsy on a long road trip is dangerous. And there’s a reason why people continue to bring it up as a warning. But it’s actually when you’re driving around your neighborhood that can pose more of a threat.
Most fatal car accidents happen within 25 miles from your home. Think about it: have you ever gotten home from work not remembering how you got there?
It’s easy for your brain to go on auto-pilot the whole drive home since it’s so familiar and repetitive to drive in your own neighborhood. Driving in your neighborhood can cause you to rely more on muscle memory and not active driving skills.
How do you drive when you’re driving to a new place? You tend to be hyper-vigilant since you have to make sure you’re going the right way and you don’t miss a turn.
Just remember to stay alert and buckle up. The last thing is key. Drivers often skip buckling up if they’re just driving around the corner. Or they undo their seatbelts early if they’re getting closer to home.
When do most car accidents happen?
More cars on the road means more risk for drivers. The worst offender for time and day for car accidents are Fridays between noon and 3:00 p.m. and 3-6 p.m.
The most dangerous times to drive line up with the hours when most commuters are heading home.
Everyone wants to go explore and go on more road trips in the warmer weather.
The summer and early fall are actually the most dangerous time of the year to drive. Americans drive the most number of miles during the warmer months.
Independence Day and New Year’s Day also have the highest average toll of any single date.
Wait, so I can’t avoid car accidents at all?
There’s no sure-fire way to avoid getting into car accidents. But there are a few things you can do that can certainly lower your risk of getting into one.
Pay attention to your driving habits
How are your driving habits? No, really. How are they?
The first thing you should do is be more aware of your driving habits. Every single time you get behind the wheel, stay alert and cautious. Cut out any reckless driving.
Don’t check your phone while driving if you hear it buzz, don’t text, and listen to the GPS instructions rather than looking at it on your phone.
It’ll take time, but staying accident-free only benefits you.
Keep your car maintained
Yes, good driving habits will lower your risk of getting into a car accident. But keeping up with car maintenance is another part of it.
Take your car in for routine checks. Make sure your brakes and tires are always ready for the road.
Take a defensive driving course
If being aware of your driving habits isn’t enough, you can look into taking a defensive driving class. Some insurance companies offer a discount on the course while other insurers provide a discount on your premium after you’ve taken the class.