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Surprising facts about accident probability

Some people love to travel by car, to drive across the country and get a glimpse of the world up close. They know the dangers, but may even have a certain enjoyment of their morning commute. Others prefer to stay close to home, reserving their travels for work, errands and visits to family. Perhaps the risk of being on the road keeps them content with local living and driving only where they are familiar.

It may seem to you that staying close to home is the safer choice, but studies have long shown that this is not always true. In fact, the closer you are to home, the more dangerous your drive may be.

The comforts of home

If you commute to work or regularly drive long distances, you know that after a while, your body begins to ache and your mind becomes numb. You may turn up the radio, roll down the windows or stop for a break. You may not realize that the same kind of numbness may be coming over you when you drive in familiar areas, such as your own neighborhood. Data shows that many car accidents occur within 25 miles of home, some only a few blocks from your destination.

Overly familiar driving routes can shift your brain into autopilot, allowing your habitual responses to take over. This may prevent you from responding effectively to dangers or sudden changes. The familiarity and feeling of safety you may have driving close to home may also convince you to skip the seat belt, which is never a good idea.

When and where is it safe to drive?

While Michigan has its share of fatal accidents and injuries on the road, states to the south and west see more lives lost on their highways. Interestingly, the intense pace of highways and the gridlock of city streets are not where you are most vulnerable to an accident. Studies show that the lonely, rural roads are most deadly, especially those in wide, flat spaces where nothing changes for miles.

Thirty-one percent of fatal accidents happen between 6 p.m. and midnight, and 16 percent occur during rush hour, between 3 and 6 p.m. However, anytime has the potential for a deadly crash if negligent, distracted or drowsy drivers are on the road with you. While you may do what you can to avoid an accident, sometimes, you are at the mercy of drivers who are more willing to take risks with your life.

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