Studies have shown that most car accidents happen near one’s home. In fact a Progressive Insurance study made in 2004 revealed that 52% of car accidents happen within a 5 mile radius of the home. This may seem odd at first glance because the common perception is that long distance travel on high speed interstates is dangerous. However, when you stop and think about it, it does make a lot of sense.
This is because people do most of their driving close to home. When buying groceries, buying home supplies, going to the post office, or eating out, most people will drive to the place nearest their home because it requires less time. Statistically speaking, accidents are more likely to occur where one does most of his or her driving.
People also tend to feel more secure near their homes because of familiarity. This “easy relaxed driving” causes them to let their guard down which makes an accident more likely to happen. This feeling of security even causes some people to not wear seat belts. The common view is that a short trip is not worth the bother of buckling up.
A false sense of security is not the only reason why most accidents occur close to home. Another problem is that people know their local neighborhoods like the backs of their hands. This causes them to drive on auto pilot where they rely on their muscle memory to do their driving for them. Meanwhile they are thinking of things that have nothing to do with the driving itself. They may even spend the time talking or texting on their cell phones. If something unexpected happens such as a car pulling out of a driveway, the person will not respond quickly enough. Muscle memory is a poor substitute for the thinking part of the brain.
The perception of the dangers of long distance driving on high speed interstates is correct. Higher speeds do result in bad accidents and driving for long periods of time can cause drowsiness. However, most people do not engage in long distance driving that often and when they do, they are not driving on auto pilot.
When driving near home, the motorist should be just as cautious and alert as they would on a longer trip because the local neighborhood is where they expose themselves the most to the hazards of the road. This is also why they should wear their seat belt.