It’s an oft-repeated statistic, but it’s one that’s held true through the years: the vast majority of car accidents happen within a few miles of our homes. Usually, the idea is to advise caution on every trip, no matter how close by it is.
But that factoid also raises so many questions. Why do so many accidents happen close to the home? What factors make it more likely? And what can I do to reduce my risk of a nearby accident?
We dug around a little bit and found some information on the topic — some of which will demystify the narrative power that the statistic seems to have. But, even if the statistic isn’t quite as pithy as it sounds, there are still factors that show we’re more prone to make risky decisions in a comfortable environment.
If you’ve been hurt in an accident near your home, know that you have the right to pursue an injury claim against all at-fault drivers. Auger & Auger can provide you with an experienced car accident lawyer in the Carolinas. Your attorney can help you calculate your damages, pursue a strong case, and fight any attempt to reduce or deny your claim. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation now when you call us at (855) 969-5671 or contact us online.
Most Accidents Happen Near the Home Because We Drive There More Often
The most simple — and killjoy — response to “Why do most accidents happen within a few miles of the house?” is that we have more chances for an accident to occur where we drive most often.
Think about it: how often do you take a trip that lasts more than two hours? Now, how about one hour? Now how about just five minutes? The shorter the amount of time, the more likely the trip is to never go past a certain mile radius.
Even if you have a long regular commute, the fact is that you are far more likely to be driving close to your home than you are far away. Actually, you are going to be driving within a mile of your home on 100% of the trips you go on, simply because that’s where your trip begins and ends. With more trips comes more opportunities for an accident, so they are going to happen at a proportionally larger rate in an area where you drive more often.
In a way, saying “most accidents happen within a few miles of home” is like saying “most blisters happen while you’re wearing shoes that you own” or, “your pet is most likely to get fur on your own clothes.”
Unless the two different categories — close to home vs. far away — are accounted for on a miles-driven basis, then it’s not as revealing of a factoid as it claims to be on paper.
On the other hand, some individuals might assume that being near your home would make you less likely to get into an accident, which is clearly not the case. The following are some of the factors that could contribute to this trend of accidents that, literally, hit close to home.
Being in Your Comfort Zone Can Mean Taking More Risk
One interesting fact that emerges when studying close-to-home accidents is that the effect is observed in both female and male driver populations.
Looking at national statistics from the NHTSA, men are 45% more likely than women to be involved in an accident. Yet, a 2017 statistical study published in the journal Safety Science concluded that “the close to home effect holds for male and female drivers of all ages.”
The study noted a few factors that can contribute to accidents. Drivers involved in close-to-home crashes are more likely to be distracted, under the influence of alcohol, or both.
A likely reason that drivers take more risks is that they are in familiar territory. Since they know the turns and landmarks, they may feel as if they can reduce their attention and put less effort into driving. They may also feel like they are less likely to commit a driving mistake while under the influence of alcohol because they can use their “muscle memory” to just repeat driving motions needed to get through the last mile of their trip.
Further, drivers are more likely to succumb to distractions or make risky drunk driving decisions in neighborhood roads compared to driving that might require getting on the highway.
You don’t have to be the one making risky decisions to get wrapped up in an accident, either. If someone who lives nearby is willing to take risks, they can put you and your family at-risk, too.
Pedestrian Accidents Tend to Happen in Residential Areas, and Pedestrians Tend to Get Hit Near Their Home
Another factor that can make close-to-home accidents more likely is the presence of pedestrians. According to one study on all accidents (not just car crashes) compared to their distance from the home, the median distance from home for injured pedestrians was 1.1 miles.
Again, several familiar factors may be at play with this observed effect: more frequent travel in the given range, more pedestrians in residential areas, speeding, and distracted driving in a non-highway setting.
But even still, the risk to pedestrians means that drivers and walkers alike should exercise caution near the home. Of the 374 close-to-home pedestrian accidents observed in the study, 110 (over 29%) were fatal.
An Accident Close to Home Can Change Your Life, So Be Vigilant on Every Trip
Driving near home can feel like sliding into a pair of well-worn slippers, but don’t confuse the comfort of familiar floorboards with the sight of something familiar past your dashboard. Every single trip you take has the chance to result in an accident, one that could leave you and your passengers injured — or worse.
Be cautious no matter how far you drive. Use the same guidelines in your neighborhood that you would on a highway five states away. Be wary that other drivers in your neighborhood may be making poor decisions that could snarl you up in an undesirable collision. Pedestrians, in particular, should use caution no matter how close they are to their front door.
If you get hurt in an accident of any type, it can literally pay to talk to an experienced car accident lawyer near you. They can help you determine fault and prove the extent of your losses, allowing you to seek an injury claim against any at-fault driver’s insurance.
While it may be devastating to get hit just a few blocks away from your house, you have legal options. Speak to a knowledgeable car accident attorney in the Carolinas about those options when you call Auger & Auger at (855) 969-5671 or contact us online to book a free appointment today.