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Rush hour crashes peak as evenings get darker

More than 55,000 accidents were recorded during the evening rush (4-8pm) on UK roads in 2015.

Posted on 28 Oct 2016

- 5pm - 6pm is the most dangerous hour to be on the roads, with almost 17,000 accidents recorded in 2015.
- Evening rush hour is the least preferred time to be on the road, according to almost a third (29%) of drivers.
As the clocks fall back, 42% of motorists admit their least favourite light condition for driving is darkness or night.
Almost a third (30%) of women will avoid driving at night compared to 16% of men.

Ahead of the clocks going back this Sunday, turning the evening commute darker for drivers, new research from Confused.com reveals car accidents peak during the evening rush (4pm – 8pm).

According to new Freedom of Information data (1) obtained by the motoring experts, last year alone saw 55,441 accidents take place during the rush-hour period (4-8pm). Between 2013 and 2015 a total of 167,048 accidents were recorded between 4pm and 8pm. 50,780 of these occurred between 5pm and 6pm – an average of 17,000 accidents per year – making this the most dangerous hour to be on the roads.

Casualties in reported road accidents by hour of day

 Hour  2013  2014  2015
5am – 5.59am  1,574   1,677 1,565 
8am – 8.59am  12,846  13,724  12,866
12pm – 12.59pm  11,254  11,950  10,964
5pm – 5.59pm  16,574  17,397  16,809
8pm – 8.59pm  7,232  7,244  7,209
11pm – 11.59pm  3,539  3,678  3,659

Further research, commissioned by Confused.com, reveals of those drivers who have had an accident in the past, almost one third (31%) say it took place between 4pm and 9pm. It may then come as little surprise the majority of drivers (29%) say evening rush hour is the time of day they least like to be on the road. Over the coming months, sunset will be brought forward to as early as 3.51pm (2), which will be an unwelcome change for a further one fifth (21%) of drivers, who admit they least like driving late in the evening or at night.

When asking motorists about their preferred lighting conditions for driving, overall, 42% say they least like being on the road in the dark. However, a gender breakdown uncovers that this equates to over half (51%) of women and just a third (33%) of men. In fact, 42% of women state they do not like driving at night compared to just 24% of men. Women are also more likely to refrain from driving after dark, with almost a third (30%) admitting they have avoided driving at night, compared to 16% of their male counterparts.

Many road users may be well accustomed to driving in the dark, with more than two thirds (68%) driving at night either every day or several times a week. But the data suggests drivers’ reservations about being on the road at night could be linked to reduced or obstructed visibility. 

Even though driving examinations in the UK are legally required to include a quick eyesight check to see if drivers can accurately read number plates from a distance(3), there are no eyesight tests required in the dark or in low levels of light.  More than a third (34%) say they find it harder to see when driving at night and over half (51%) say they are often dazzled by other cars with full beams. A quarter of motorists (25%) prefer to only drive on roads that have street lighting.

Despite concerns about night time motoring conditions, learning to drive in the dark is not obligatory, with nearly half (46%) of motorists never having been taught to drive at night. Yet 58% believe it should be compulsory and a quarter (23%) think newly qualified drivers should be accompanied when on the road after dark. Furthermore, a quarter of motorists (25%) agree you should not be allowed to drive at night if you have impaired vision. Meanwhile, 55% believe all drivers should be legally required to have regular eye tests.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says: “Our research shows that many UK drivers feel less confident when driving at night. Commuters especially, who are already having to battle through traffic during the dangerous evening rush hour, must be dreading the darker evenings, which can make the journey home more challenging. Drivers are right to be cautious - those who have telematics or ‘black box’ insurance will know that their car insurance premiums are likely to be affected if they are regularly on the road after dark as it is considered a riskier time to drive.

“Reduced visibility clearly plays a part in motorists’ reservations about driving at night, yet we don’t teach people how to cope with night time conditions as a matter of course. When vision is reduced, tiredness can strike and it can be far harder to spot vulnerable road users such as pedestrians or cyclists. 

“As the sun begins to set earlier, drivers will need to be extra vigilant on the roads, particularly during evening rush hour as they are at an increased risk of having an accident, which could result in higher insurance premiums. As ever, our advice to all motorists who are concerned about their premiums is to shop around using a site such as Confused.com, which could help drivers save on their car insurance.”

-Ends- 

Notes to editors
Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll on behalf of Confused.com. This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults who drive (nationally representative sample). The research was conducted between 12/10/2016 and 14/10/ 2016.
1. Confused.com issued a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Transport which asked the following: 
a. The number of road casualties that have occurred between 1) 7pm-6am 2) 6am-7pm over the last 3 years
b. Indicate severity of casualty and cause where possible in relation to eye sight (e.g. night blindness) 
2. Forecasted sunset timetable for London in December 2016 according to TimeandDate.com http://www.timeanddate.com/sun/uk/london?month=12
3. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/driving-eyesight-requirements


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About Confused.com

Confused.com is No.1 for car savings – based on opportunities to save on car related products. See confused.com/no1 for more information. Launched in 2002, Confused.com was the UK's first price comparison site for car insurance and is one of the UK’s biggest and most popular price comparison services, generating over one million quotes per month. It has expanded its range of comparison products over the last couple of years to include small van insurance, motorcycle insurance, car buying and selling, and car finance, as well as a number of tools designed to save drivers money on motoring.

Confused.com is not a supplier, insurance company or broker. It provides an objective and unbiased comparison service. By using cutting-edge technology, it has developed a series of intelligent web-based solutions that evaluate a number of risk factors to help customers with their decision-making, subsequently finding them great deals on a wide-range of insurance products, financial services, utilities and more. Confused.com’s service is based on the most up-to-date information provided by UK suppliers and industry regulators.

Confused.com is owned by the Admiral Group plc. Admiral listed on the London Stock Exchange in September 2004. Confused.com is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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