Professionals in many industries work regular first-shift schedules. They may have to accept a relatively long commute to work depending on the salary they earn and the needs of their families. Some people even accept jobs in another town or county.
Many hard-working adults simply accept their commute as a cost of employment. They may spend an hour going back and forth to work every day or sometimes even more than that. Most people view their commutes as a source of lost time and expense in the form of gas burned. Fewer people acknowledge that the commute to and from work is also a source of personal injury risk. In fact, those working a first-shift schedule may find themselves on the roads during one of the most dangerous times of day.
What collision data shows about commute safety
Technically, the nighttime is the most dangerous time to be on the road. According to research by the National Safety Council (NSC), more crashes overall and many of the worst crashes occur after the sun sets. Visibility issues, drunk drivers and other factors make the nighttime very dangerous on the roads.
However, the NSC also recognizes the afternoon rush hour as a time of particularly elevated crash risk. The hours between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on weeknights are the second most dangerous time to drive. Factors including high traffic density contribute to the level of risk.
Drivers excited to head home after a long day at work may not properly focus on the road or might respond to text messages and emails. People may stop for a happy hour drink after a stressful day at the office, adding impairment to the risk of concerns during the afternoon rush hour.
Finally, fatigue is a concern. Those who wake with the sun may experience a late afternoon energy slump. They may have a harder time focusing or reacting quickly to changing traffic conditions because they feel sleepy. Particularly when the weather is bad or when the roads are especially hectic, motorists may want to choose less popular routes or slow down during their commute after work to reduce their risk of a crash.
With all of this said, understanding what factors contribute to overall crash risk may help people better prioritize their own safety on their way home from work.