Why Are Drivers More Likely To Get Into Car Accidents When They Are Close to Their Homes?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Car Accidents Published on January 12, 2024 and updated on February 1, 2024.

mother driving car with son in passenger seat

Many drivers relax when they are on the familiar roads near their homes. It is only natural to feel there is much less risk of a collision when you have used these streets many times before.

Unfortunately, research contradicts this widely held belief. Drivers may be more reckless when they are closer to home.

In this blog, we delve into the surprising statistics and reasons why you may be more susceptible to negligent behavior behind the wheel. We also provide tips on reducing your risk of a collision when you are close to home.

If you were injured in a collision close to home or anywhere else in Maryland, our experienced Maryland auto accident lawyers may be able to seek compensation for your damages, at no upfront cost. Crashes are often caused by driver negligence, which means you may be able to seek compensation for the damages caused by the crash.

We are ready to help you. Call us at: 410-297-0271.

What Does the Research Say About Crash Risks Near Home?

There is substantial research on the frequency of car crashes happening close to drivers’ homes. A 2015 study from the Journal of Trauma Acute Care Surgery revealed the following:

  • 77.1 percent of the 1,644 accidents studied happened just 10 miles from where drivers live
  • 87.6 percent of the accidents studied happened within a 20-mile radius of home

This is in line with findings from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which found most crashes occur within a 25-mile radius of where drivers live.

These findings are especially interesting when you consider most peoples’ driving habits. Most people drive an average of 29.2 miles each day, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Not only do a lot of crashes happen close to home, but often within the first few minutes of a trip. A study done by Dolphin Technologies in 2020 revealed that:

  • 25 percent of crashes happen in the first three minutes of a trip
  • 14 percent happen within the first six minutes

Dolphin Technologies is a telematics device company. For the study, they looked at 3.2 million trips that involved 40,000 people. There were 1,986 crashes out of the 3.2 million trips.

The study also found an increase in crashes when trips lasted longer than 40 minutes. This might be because drivers are getting closer to home, so they relax.

These studies collectively highlight a critical but often overlooked aspect of road safety – the proximity to home is a key factor in negligent driving.

What Are the Main Reasons for Near-Home Collisions?

It might be easier to prevent near-home crashes if we could pinpoint one reason why they happen. However, there are several reasons for this phenomenon:

Familiarity May Lead to Overconfidence

Drivers often feel overconfident in their ability to avoid a crash because they are in familiar territory. You could also say drivers let their guards down or have a false sense of security.

Distracted Driving

When drivers feel like there is little risk of a crash, they are more likely to allow themselves to get distracted. Some people may try to multitask instead of keeping their focus on driving. They may text, use smartphone apps, apply makeup or eat or drink while driving. These distractions often lead drivers to take one or both of their hands off the wheel or divert their concentration. Some drivers may become so engrossed in the music or podcast they are listening to that they are less prepared to respond if they run into unexpected danger.

Presence of Inexperienced Drivers

When you drive in residential areas, you are more likely to be sharing the road with teenagers and other newer drivers. Teenagers are more prone to making bad decisions behind the wheel. If you are not paying attention, you might get into a crash with one of them. Even though the crash may be their fault, you might have been able to avoid it.

Reckless Driving Behaviors

Complacency closer to home may tempt some drivers to ignore the rules of the road. They might not come to a complete stop at a traffic sign. They might forget to use a turn signal before changing lanes. Some drivers become impatient and tailgate other cars.

Fatigue and Drowsiness

Some drivers who get involved in a crash may be returning home after being at work all day. Other drivers may be at the end of a long trip after a vacation. In these situations, drivers are more likely to be feeling road fatigue. When people are tired, they pay less attention to detail. In some cases, these drivers are much too tired and should not be out on the road.

Drivers who have long commutes may become tired from the drive itself. They may experience highway hypnosis and zone out because they are on a familiar route. While in this state, drivers are much less likely to notice danger ahead.

Residential Driving Requires More Attention

Drivers need to be more careful in residential areas for these and other reasons:

  • Increased presence of parked vehicles
  • Delivery trucks
  • Bicycle riders
  • Pedestrians, including children who may run into the road without looking for cars

When drivers are on autopilot or distracted it becomes much harder to avoid a dangerous crash.

Impaired Driving

Unfortunately, some drivers get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If they are close to home, they may think they can make it home safely because of the short distance. Some near-home crashes are the result of both impairment and being too confident while driving in a familiar area.

Reducing Risks Close to Home

While there is no way to avoid every crash, you can take steps to reduce your risk.

  • Stay vigilant: Maintain the same level of caution as you would in unfamiliar areas. You are not safer just because you know an area well.
  • Limit distractions: Avoid distracting activities, like using your phone or adjusting the radio. Your hands need to be on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Your mind also needs to be solidly focused on what is happening around you so you can operate your vehicle safely.
  • Drive defensively: Be aware of other drivers who may be less cautious in familiar areas. Stay alert and prepared for unpredictable actions from other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Obey speed limits: Stick to the posted speed, especially in residential areas with lower limits.
  • Use seat belts: Ensure everyone in the car is buckled up, regardless of how long the trip is.
  • Avoid driving when fatigued: If you feel tired, take a break before driving, especially after a long day.
  • Be mindful of pedestrians and bicyclists: Slow down and be extra cautious in areas where pedestrians and cyclists are present.
  • Watch for parked vehicles: Be aware of potential hazards like opening car doors, people darting out from between parked cars or moving vehicles.
  • Never drive under the influence: Avoid driving if you have consumed alcohol or drugs.

Need Legal Help Following a Crash? Call To Discuss Legal Options

At The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl, we are committed to helping those injured in crashes caused by another driver’s negligence. If you are searching for legal assistance following a car crash, call us to learn more about how we may be able to help you.

We have been advocating for crash victims for decades and have a long history of recovering compensation, both in the courtroom and through insurance settlements.

Schedule a free legal consultation to find out if you may be eligible for compensation.

Experience matters. Call today. Phone: 410-297-0271.