Does your first-shift commute expose you to elevated crash risk?

Working a first-shift job is a perk for many professionals. They can sleep when their biological clocks tell them it is time to do so and have their evenings at home with their families. Countless Americans schedule their lives around their first-shift job responsibilities.

If you are one of those professionals, you may daily expose yourself to a dangerous situation without even realizing it. According to research into when collisions occur, your commute likely has you on the road during one of the most dangerous times of the day.

Your afternoon commute is more dangerous than the morning one

The National Safety Council (NSC)reviews crash statistics from across the country to better understand what causes collisions and how officials might reduce the number of people dying in crashes. Spotting trends in when, where and why collisions occur can be a good starting point for developing better public safety policies.

While the NSC acknowledges that nighttime is the most dangerous time to drive, they highlight the afternoon rush hour as the second most dangerous time of day to be on the road. Between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., the risk of a crash is higher than at most other times throughout the day.

Drivers may experience a slump and energy due to their natural circadian rhythms. Many drivers distract themselves on their commute home, taking emails from the office or texting with their spouse about dinner. There are even some people who stop off at happy hour and are drunk on the road. All of these dangerous elements combined to make the afternoon rush hour one of the riskiest times to be on the road.

How can you reduce your crash risk?

Changing your job schedule to a second or third-shift arrangement wouldn’t necessarily keep you any safer, as you might have to commute when it is dark outside. Beyond that, you might find yourself struggling to stay awake as you adjust to a different daily schedule.

Awareness can help keep you safer than drastic changes. When you recognize that you could easily encounter a drunk, drowsy or distracted driver on your way home from the office, you can be more proactive about scanning the road around you for signs of danger. You may also choose to follow a different path home for your afternoon commute than the route that you take in the morning to avoid streets where crashes seem to occur more frequently or there is higher traffic density.

Learning more about trends related to motor vehicle collisions could help some drivers reduce their risk of getting hurt on the road.