As the days grow shorter and darkness descends earlier in the evening, you may wonder if this change in daylight hours affects the frequency of car accidents. The largest amount of vehicle accidents usually happen between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 7:59 p.m., according to the National Safety Council.
Understanding the relationship between shorter days and accidents can help you take preventative measures to stay safe.
Daylight and alertness
One of the key factors in accidents is driver alertness. With shorter days, people often find themselves commuting in low-light or dark conditions, which can lead to reduced visibility and an increased risk of accidents.
Drivers may struggle to stay alert during their evening commutes, and pedestrians and cyclists become less visible to motorists. These factors contribute to a higher accident rate.
Shorter days often coincide with colder weather and adverse driving conditions such as rain, snow and ice. These weather-related challenges can further elevate the risk of accidents. Slippery roads and reduced traction can lead to more accidents, and drivers may struggle to adapt to changing weather conditions during their evening travels.
Fatigue and reduced daylight
With fewer daylight hours, individuals may experience changes in their sleep patterns and circadian rhythms. Reduced exposure to natural light can disrupt people’s internal body clocks, leading to increased fatigue.
Fatigue, in turn, impairs cognitive functioning and reaction times. This makes it more difficult for drivers to respond quickly to unexpected situations on the road, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
Shorter days not only affect drivers but also pedestrians. The limited visibility during the evening hours can make it challenging for pedestrians to cross streets safely. This can result in more accidents involving pedestrians, especially in areas with poor street lighting or inadequate pedestrian infrastructure.
While it is not a certainty that accidents increase as days get shorter, there is a clear correlation between reduced daylight and higher accident rates. Noting the differences in these months can help drivers create an environment of thoughtfulness and attentiveness.