7/29/2011 3:56 PM ET|
The deadliest month on the road
The chances of dying in a car crash are greatest in August, when more Americans are killed while driving than at any other time of the year.
The Fourth of July may be the most hazardous day on U.S. roads, but Aug. 1 kicks off the deadliest month of the year for American motorists.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records going back to 1994, more Americans die in car crashes in August than at any other time of the year. Though the number of people killed in U.S. crashes in August 2009 dropped by almost 400 from 2008, 2,864 still died during the month. (The total for 2010 isn't yet available.)
The traffic safety agency reports that per 100 million miles traveled, August has an average fatality rate of 1.09, compared with 1.08 for September, the second-deadliest month, and 0.94 for March, the safest month. July, at 1.04, is the third-deadliest.
In 2009, the agency says, an average of 93 people died each day in U.S. motor vehicle crashes -- an average of one death every 16 minutes. And according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, from 2005 to 2009, seven of the 25 deadliest days overall occurred in August.
The odds of a fatal crash increase in August "because more people are out on the road driving more miles than other times of the year," says Russ Rader, a spokesman for the institute.
The deadliest day and the safest day
For the same reason, the deadliest days are on the weekends. Since that's when Americans tend to run extra errands, visit family members or take more day trips, and when drunken driving increases, it's no surprise that weekends are a more dangerous time to be on the road.
Saturdays have the most crash-related fatalities, with Saturdays in 2009 averaging 123 deaths a day nationwide, according to insurance institute data. Sundays were the second-deadliest in 2009, with an average of 107 deaths, followed by 102 on Fridays.
By contrast, Tuesday is the day you're least likely to die in a crash, with an average of 69 fatalities occurring each Tuesday.
The rest of the daily averages:
- Mondays, 79 deaths.
- Wednesdays, 78.
- Thursdays, 84.
The deadliest and safest days of the week
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says 32% of crash deaths occur between 3 and 9 p.m. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has narrowed down the deadliest hours to between 6 and 8:59 p.m. That's when more than four people die each hour, according to the traffic safety administration.
"A large proportion of crashes happen in late afternoon and early evening in general, but especially in August," Rader says. That's when the roads fill up both with commuters and vacationers.
It's no surprise that from 3 to 5:59 a.m., when most people are snuggled in their beds, is when the fewest deadly crashes occur. But that doesn't mean it's entirely safe on the roads: A little less than an average of two people die each hour.
The morning commute is only slightly more deadly, still averaging between two and three deaths per hour between 6 and 8:59 a.m.
Middle of the day, middle of the road
The insurance institute says 23% of all U.S. crash-related deaths -- an average of three per hour -- occur between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
One reason for the nation's death rates: Despite decades of safety campaigns, millions of motorists don't always buckle up. For example, less than half of drivers and passengers between ages 13 and 54 use seat belts, according to numbers crunched by the traffic safety administration.
"If everyone buckled up on every trip, we would sharply reduce the number of fatal crashes that we expect to happen this summer," Rader says.
Who's most likely to die in an accident?
According to the insurance institute, 33,808 people were killed in crashes on U.S. roads in 2009:
- Ages 13 to 15 constituted 2% of all traffic deaths.
- 16 to 19, 9%.
- 20 to 34, 31%.
- 35 to 49, 23%.
- 50 to 69, 22%.
- 70 and up, 12%.
Children under age 13 accounted for less than 1% of traffic deaths, which can be attributed to the increased use of infant and child safety seats in recent decades. In 1975, 8% of all traffic deaths involved kids under 13.
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As a commercial driver with enough logged miles for several round trips to the moon and some track time in a few sports cars I think the problem is too many people with driver's licenses who should not be allowed in the front seat of a motor vehicle.
That problem could be solved by raising the age of eligibility to 20, making both the written and driving tests A LOT TOUGHER and charging a separate $100. fee for each time either test needs to be taken.
One (as in the first offense) DUI would result in a minimum $`2000 fine, driver's ed course, suspension for six months and a $1000. reinstatement fee. Second offense would mean loss of vehicle, and a fine that would leave the offender with NO discretionary funds for the duration of a six month house arrest sentence with an electronic ankle alarm. Any citations for a major offense such as exhibition speeding, reckless driving or an at fault accident after a second DUI would mean permanent loss of driving privilege. Those without the means to pay would be required to work off their fines at minimum wage cage cleaning up after accidents, picking up litter or other menial tasks. Jail time would be the option for those who didn't want to work.
Those changes in the driving/traffic codes would not only reduce the number of traffic fatalities and crippling injuries, it would also reduce traffic density making driving more enjoyable for those who follow the rules of the road and afford others the consideration and respect they deserve.
I have witnessed some horrific wrecks and seen body bags lined up on the shoulder of a couple of roads so if my ideas seem harsh, imagine what the families of the dead and maimed have to deal with for the rest of their lives.
I ride a motorcycle and notice people texting(mostly younger people) and crossing over the line, I'm glad I'm behind them at the time, two motorcyclist here have lost a leg and some have lost there lives. I'm not blaming it all on texing but I see how dangerous it can be so PLEASE WAIT! to text, its not that important to Take a Life for a Text.
I rarely comment but likoty OMG you are an absolute idiot!! You are putting others lives at risk!! I had a dingy blonde rear end me while texting and I was hurt for 3 months!! Wake Up!!
I am a rider, and a driver. I read some of the other comments, and I do feel that it is important
for drivers to look out for motorcycle riders, but the riders need to stay out of peoples blind spots, and watch their following distance. Also it is important for the riders to have a plan. What should I do, if this guy swerves into my line? Can I swerve into another line, or onto the shoulder? It is also important to have good horn.
I agree with Danny Justus!!! Turn the phones OFF> You know how many people I pass daily on the road with a cell phone to their ear...I mean there are many I pass talking to themselves which tell me they are using the hands free thingy...But give me a break, what's so important that can't wait. And you could tell when driving...the slower driver, the one who can't seem to keep up with the posted speed limit...what the heck...GET OFF THE PHONE DINGDONG...
Whoooo, thanks for letting me Vent...but if one of these people or a drunk mind you, causes one of my loved ones to die in a crash it is going to be extremely hard to forgive. God Bless all and be careful on the road.....
I work advanced technical support for Sprint.
If you call me for help and you are
1. talking on your phone that needs the help, I will tell you to hang up and call from another phone. CAN NOT troubleshoot your cell phone while you are talking on it, It's Impossible.
2. IF YOU CALL ME WHILE YOU ARE DRIVING SPRINT AUTHORIZES HANGING UP ON YOU !!!! ALL CELL PHONE COMPANIES AUTHORIZE THIS.
It is the most STUPIDEST thing to talk, text message, do your makeup while you are driving.
It shows you are irresponsible and do NOT deserve the right to drive. Doing this shows you don't care about your life and the lives of others. You think you are invincible.
HELLO !!! We are all mortals and DIE.
People who do this deserve to go to prision for LIFE for attempted murder.
THERE IS ONE TRUTH: TOO MANY PEOPLE ARE TEXTING AND DRIVING, PHONING AND DRIVING, CALLING AND DRIVING , WITH THEIR NECK SQUIZED TO THEIR SHOULDER....THIS HAS A NAME: MENTAL DESEASE I.E. INSANITY.
KEEP BOTH OF YOUR HANDS ON YOUR STIRING WHEEL AND MOST OF ALL GET OFF OF UR FK*** PHONE ONCE AND FOR ALL. YOU ARE PUTTING YOUR LIFE AND THE LIFE OF OTHER PEOPLE AT RISK. BECAUSE YOU CANNOT BE ALERT AND TEXTING AND PHONING AT THE SAME TIME. U HAVE LITTLE BRAIN LEFT, AND WHATEVER IS LEFT IS BEING COOKED BY THE MICROWAVE PHONE YOU SHOULD TRASH TODAY!
WARNING DO NOT READ THIS MESSAGE WHILE YOU ARE DRIVING!
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JoshRP..I'm curious as to how old you are that you consider 50 as being old. hhehee. I WILL agree though that anyone over the age of lets say 65 should be ROAD tested every year. The response of the elderly behind the wheel is a well known factor in accidents, especially in bad weather.
I can also agree with those posting about texting and talking on phones while driving. That makes me crazy. There is absolutely NOTHING that cannot wait till you get home or get to the office or whatever. Unless it's a Emergency, and in which case pull over, let the calls go to voice mail.
I live here in Mo and I see people ALL the time w/o their seat belts and children not in car seats. It makes me VERY angry. But if you try to educate them they just get angry and tell you to mind your own business. I guess they just want to die. They're teaching their children VERY bad habits. I'm from SO. CA. where I rarely saw someone w/o a seat belt. I've been wearing mine so long it's just second nature to put it on. I just don't understand it back here. You'd think people would want to live.
I saw in a car the other day 4 little kids 2 in the front seat crawling all over mom and dad and the other 2 in the back seat climbing all over the place and the parents just oblivious to what's going on around them. Traffic was everywhere.
I thought to myself, how dumb can you get..... No seat belts, no car seats!!!!!!! How dumb can you get. Wake up Missouri!!!!!
Let me follow up to your post with some clarifications: Only SOME people - worldwide, this isn't just about United States citizens - possess the abilities to truly multitask. So many people think they can, and even with alot of time spent practicing - i.e. talking on the phone while driving, or eating while driving, or even (as I saw an off-duty police officer do) drive 85 mpg while reading a paperback book (OMG!OMG!OMG!!) - very few of the population can actually do it with any real sense of control over both tasks. This isn't like the old proverbial "walking and chewing gum" but real focused multitasking. Most people aren't cut out for it. If you, as a reader, find it even mildly difficult to concentrate on a conversation at the same time you are watching the road, then consider your self part of the MAJORITY and be a responsible person and just focus on the task at hand - the one that puts many, many lives in jeopardy if mistakes are made. Just drive! When the roads are crowded and/or the speeds are fast, you are in a position of saving/risking lives every bit as much as an air traffic controller or a commercial pilot or even a train conductor sitting behind a switchboard controlling which trains are on which tracks. This applies to high pedestrian areas too. In my city of about 1M population, news breaks of a car killing 1 or more pedestrians a couple times a year. The close calls never make the news of course, but how many times is a pedestrian in the road when he/she shouldn't be? All too often. Could be a kid in a neighborhood, or an elderly person disoriented or near blind. Could be a teen/20-something challenging traffic to cross the street. It doesn't matter who it is, though, because if you are one of the majority who really cannot drive while diverting part of their focus to a second small task, or worse, you are driving (no matter your multitasking abilities) and have your eyes focused 18" in front of you trying to read or write something in 6pt font on a 3" screen, then guaranteed, when that person makes a mistake, you will be unable to take the evasive action to prevent a death.
So MADD has lied all these years when they said New Years was the most dangerous?
Whether it's drinking, texting, eating, changing the radio, improper maintenance, or just inattention - all of those should be punished the same when you cause a wreck.
We have a crazy system based on revenue for police and Gov't, and not on safety. You will get a greater punishment for DUI when there was no wreck than when you are changing the radio and kill someone sober.
Why is it that the fine for running a red light is the same whether you hit someone or not?
PUNISH THE ACTUAL CRIME AND NOT POSSIBLE FUTURE CRIMES!
When someone is at fault they should get a several thousand dollar fine for causing a wreck. It's absolute insanity to give 99% of the tickets cost to people who have caused no wreck, then let people who have done the very thing you are trying to prevent - off so easy.
Lots of statistics, but where are the tips that are going to help drivers avoid these fatal crashes? All you're giving us is "buckle up"? The reason why summer afternoons are the worst for crashes are bad tires. We have a whole separate detailed blog on this, but the bottom line is as follows: only use replacement tires that have been approved by your vehicle manufacturer; rotate your tires as specified in your manual; check the tire pressure at least monthly and always in the mornings before a long trip; and always put the best tires on the REAR wheels. The last one may seem odd, but studies have shown that rear tire failures (not fronts) are far more likely to cause steering problems and rollovers. We don't want to see any more of these crashes, so TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR TIRES and then buckle up.
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