The term “rush hour” seems like a misnomer when applied to the times when people are commuting to and from work because it often involves stop-and-go traffic or just stopped traffic. Nonetheless, these hours of the morning and late afternoon/early evening are among the most dangerous to be on the road.
One report that assessed multiple studies on the topic noted that “although the average volume of traffic and traffic volume per lane was less during the rush hour, vehicle occupancy, standard deviation of the vehicular speed, and the congestion index were higher during the rush hour period when compared to non-rush hour period.”
Who travels in rush hour traffic?
Rush hour traffic doesn’t just involve full-time workers. The report notes that “crash rates among teenage drivers in cities in Virginia were highest between 7 – 8 am and 2 – 6 pm,” perhaps as they drive to and from school, extracurricular activities or part-time jobs.
Evening commutes can also involve being on the road with impaired drivers who have stopped for a drink on the way home (or have alcohol or drugs in the car). Aggressive driving by people who have had a hard day at work and just need to take their anger out on someone is a factor in some rush hour crashes. Aggressive driving has been found to increase the risk of both fatal and non-fatal crash injuries.
Everyone’s commute looks different
Peak commute times vary by locality. For example, if there’s a large employer in the area, their hours will likely affect rush hour specifics within that area. Additionally, where you live in the country (and the world) will determine your hours of daylight. It should come as no surprise that traffic accidents increase after the semi-annual time changes. Areas like Virginia, where weather can be unpredictable at any time of the year, have that added danger.
You know what your commute looks like better than anyone. Understanding some of the specific dangers of being on the road during the busiest times of the day can help you take extra precautions and perhaps find alternate routes. However, sometimes there’s no way to avoid another driver’s negligence. Remember that you have a right to seek fair compensation for your medical bills and other expenses and damages in the event that a crash does occur.