When driving, safety is always the main concern. Cars go through strenuous testing to determine how well they protect drivers and passengers in the event of an accident. No matter how safe the car is, however, there are certain variables that will always remain out of the control of car manufacturers. Government organizations like the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) gather fatal accident data in their Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) to help illuminate safety trends over the years.
We decided to look into this data to determine the safest times and areas to drive in the United States based on many variables, including time of day, gender and the state you live in.
The Safest Times & Days
When looking at the days of the week, it is clear that the weekdays were the safer times to drive, with Tuesday being the lowest number of fatalities. Obviously, the weekend was more likely to have accidents, with Saturday peaking at 5,486 accidents in 2014.
Weekday vs. Weekend
Looking closer at the days of the week, we found that during the weekdays, 3 a.m. - 5:59 a.m. was the safest time for driving. This is obvious due to the fact that less cars were on the road at that time. However, a close second was during morning rush hour, which is 9 a.m. - 11:59 a.m. The worst time for drivers during the weekday is 6 p.m. - 8:59 p.m. There were a few factors which may have come into play here, such as driving in the daylight versus the driving at night when visibility is low.
If we look at the weekend, the same trends apply for safest times for driving. The early morning hours of 3 a.m. - 5:59 a.m. was the safest times to drive, following into noon. Not surprisingly, accidents peak 9 p.m. - 11:59 p.m. at 2,338 accidents in 2014.
Safest Month on the Road
Looking at the year of 2014 on a macro level, you can see that February is the safest month to drive with fatal accidents at 1,891. There is a steady upward trend which continues to rise until October where it hits its peak of 2,825 accidents. Overall, January through March are safer months for driving. The rest of the year has a significantly higher rate of accidents per month.
Driving Safety by Gender
When comparing men and women, we looked at a study by the Department of Transportation done through 2008-2012. The risk of fatalities by male drivers was much higher than that of women at every age. Both, however follow similar trends where younger drivers were more at risk then it dipped back down until old age. The safest years to drive for men were around ages 55-59, but the safest time for women was fifteen years younger at ages 40-44.
Using the same study, we looked at the days of the week to see if there was any specific day that was more or less safe for males and females. It turned out that Wednesday was the safest day for both drivers and Saturday was the highest risk.
Looking at the number of fatalities by the time of day, we found that the safest times during the weekday was always the early morning hours of 12 a.m. - 6 a.m., with the safest time for both men and women being Tuesday morning.
However, this drastically changed for the weekend. The same time in men skyrocketed on Saturday and Sunday morning, with the highest (about 1,100 fatalities) on Sunday morning. For women, however, the most dangerous time to drive was actually on Thursday afternoon, with the peak of accidents coming between the hours of 12 p.m. - 6 p.m.
States with the Safest Drivers
The last look is at the state level. Massachusetts and Rhode Island were tied with the lowest fatal accident rate based on population, making them the safest states for driving. Massachusetts had a slightly lower fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled at .57, while Rhode Island was at .68. On the other end of the spectrum, Wyoming had the highest rate of fatal accidents at 25.7.
While there are many variables that cause accident and fatalities, the trends from the overall data are evident. Buying the safest car is a start. Be sure to look into your car’s history for things like structural damage and airbag deployment. Just remember, you can get a free vehicle history report when shopping with Instamotor. Drive safely!