Why car accidents are more likely to happen near your street

Last updated on April 5, 2023
Road safety tips and why you should pay extra attention to driving safely close to home.
Illustration of a car on a misty road called Danger Street with overturned wheelie bins.

You may feel safe on your street, but hidden danger lurks in familiar territory. According to research by the Transport Accident Commission, car accident fatalities often happen close to home, especially in regional areas. Even the most experienced driver can become involved in a car accident due to complacency behind the wheel. While car insurance may help you with the financial costs after an accident, knowing the local risks could help you stay safe. 

Familiarity breeds car accident risk

You might feel more relaxed behind the wheel on familiar routes, or like you’re driving on autopilot. Experts warn that this feeling can lull us into a dangerous sense of false security. Research into driver attention and behaviour in familiar situations suggests that drivers can be affected by inattention blindness. This means when you encounter an unusual situation, you may not be able to react swiftly enough to stop a collision. It’s important to make sure you’re always alert and paying attention to driving safely because you’re at risk every time you’re on the road.

Beware of increased motor accident risk on the dreary drive home

Unsurprisingly, most car accidents happen in the late afternoon and evening, as traffic picks up with tired after-workers seeking solace from the daily grind. As a driver’s alertness decreases due to the repetitive commute and worsening light conditions, the likelihood of a motor accident increases.

Just before rush hour tends to be a peak time for fatal crashes.  In more populated areas the most dangerous time to be on the road is between 3 PM and 4 PM, according to Teletrac Navman’s analysis of Australian Government statistics. Familiar routes can cause people to drive more recklessly - letting their guards down and engaging in risky behaviours.

Why winter is car crash season

No matter how well you know your local roads, driving conditions and the weather can be unpredictable. In winter, rain makes roads slippery, while shorter daylight hours and fog reduce visibility. In 2022, over 60,000 claims were lodged with us for motor accidents, such as reversing, rear-ending, and hitting objects. On average, our data shows a spike in these kinds of claims from May to August.

A woman holding her mobile phone to her ear while examining a scratch on a car’s paintwork.

The effects of car accidents

As well as causing damage to vehicles, property, and belongings, car accidents can result in injuries and emotional stress.

Physical injuries

Government statistics show that 68,300 people were hospitalised in 2020-2021 due to car accidents, that’s 265 people per 100,000 population. Most were suffering from head and neck injuries, with fractures being the most common type of injury. Unfortunately, both the physical and emotional effects of car accidents can be long-lasting.  

Trauma for those involved

The impact of a car accident can be devastating for those involved. The physical and emotional trauma of being involved in a car accident can be severe. Families can be torn apart, and individuals left with permanent injuries or disabilities. The emotional trauma may also lead to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A man holding the steering wheel and looking behind as he reverses his car.

Make sure you’re familiar with the laws and regulations regarding the roads in your area such as speed limits, traffic signals, and parking restrictions. 

If you don’t wear a seatbelt you’re breaking the law, even if you’re just going somewhere nearby. Also, never drive distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Bad weather can adversely affect driving conditions, particularly if your area is prone to heavy rain, snow, or ice. Take extra care when driving in these conditions by:

  • Making sure your vehicle is equipped with good tyres.  
  • Turning your lights on in fog or darkness.
  • Using a windscreen defogger.
  • Increasing the gap between your vehicle and the vehicle in front to allow more time to stop.

Don’t let familiarity lead to careless, or potentially reckless, driving. Even if you know the road and neighbourhood well, don’t allow yourself to be distracted. Construction and road works may cause unexpected lane closures and detours, so stay alert and obey any road signs or instructions from construction workers.

Similarly, watch out for anyone sharing the road with you. When you encounter pedestrians and cyclists, make sure you’re extra cautious, especially when turning, changing lanes or near pedestrian crossings. 

When you’re on the road, whether for long or short drives, make sure you’ve got the right insurance cover. 

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Disclaimer

This article has been prepared by Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL234708 (“Allianz”). In some cases, information has been provided to us by third parties and while that information is believed to be accurate and reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed in any way.

Any opinions expressed constitute our views at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither Allianz, nor its employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy or accept responsibility for any loss or liability incurred by you in respect of any error, omission or misrepresentation in this article.

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