It is a wonder of the world of automobiles and traffic patterns: the frequency with which collisions occur only within a few miles of the victim’s or driver’s home. Most people would expect the exact opposite to be true since it tends to be much more nerve-wracking experience to drive in unfamiliar areas. Still, somehow, almost 70% of traffic collisions happen within only 10 miles of home, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission (NHTSC) – and more than 50% of these, within 5 miles of home. With this in mind, you must maintain defensive driving practices, even when you feel as if you can let your guard down as you take the last exit toward your house and family. Even with all these statistics, it is important to fully understand the reasons why car accidents occur close to home so that you can avoid these accidents from happening to you.
The primary reason why so many vehicle collisions occur so close to home is that the false sense of security the driver has when entering a neighborhood or network of roads familiar to them. Think about it: The drive to and from work becomes a relatively mindless activity after a while. Instead of using the GPS or double-checking every street and freeway sign you pass before progressing your route, you may hardly even look at anything but the lights of the other cars surrounding you. You may be one of those drivers that claim to “know this road like the back of your hand,” and don’t feel as if you need to exercise the same awareness in your neighborhood as you would elsewhere.
Though these can be significant indicators of a driver’s confidence in navigation, they can also be extremely dangerous to your vigilance levels, and therefore, your ability to drive safely. Even if you are not hyper-familiar with a specific area, shorter drives (AKA, a quick trip to the store, or a neighbor’s house) invite more distractions. It has been found that drivers are much more likely to give in to distractions when navigating the areas immediately surrounding their homes or neighborhoods.
They’re more likely to:
- Use cell phones while driving
- Focus their attention on pedestrians or parked vehicles lining the side of the road, versus those cars driving alongside them
- Allow loose pets or excitable children to move around freely in the vehicle
How to Stay Safe When Driving Near Home
It is incredibly tempting to let your guard down when driving in an area you know so well. Still, you can take precautions to keep yourself safe when behind the wheel, whether you’re on a 50-mile or 10-mile trip.
- Make sure you are well-rested and -energized when driving.*
- Exercise the same vigilance for parked cars and pedestrians as you do for other moving vehicles.
- Always keep all pets and children safely restrained in the vehicle, no matter how short your trip is.
One of the most common reasons behind distracted drivers is getting “lost in thought.” Keep your mind alert with ample rest and by continually scanning the road and practicing defensive driving skills. Whether you’re near home or 1000 miles away, implement these driving precautions into your daily life to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from preventable motor accidents.