New research indicates that about 25% of all car accidents occur within the first three minutes of trip, and 40% occur during the first six minutes, suggesting that millions of serious injuries could be avoided every year if cars were avoided for short distances that can be covered by foot, bike or mass transit.
The data was presented in a report released by the Austrian telematics company Dolphin Technologies, which identified correlations between trip length and the odds of a collision, finding that drivers are more prone to being involved in an accident during the first few minutes of a trip.
Researchers from Dolphin Technologies collected data on 3.2 million rides driven by 40,000 people between 2018 and 2019, to analyze trends in drive length times and the rate of occurring automobile crashes.
A total of 1,986 accidents occurred, with 87% of the collisions occurring within the first 30 minutes of the trip. As researchers broke down time slots, shorter trips were found to contain the highest risk of accidents.
According to the findings, the first three minutes of a trip had the highest rate of car accidents, accounting for a quarter of all accidents. By the sixth minute of travel time another 14% of accidents occurred, totaling nearly 40% of all reported collisions within the first several minutes of travel.
The lowest rate of accident occurrence was between ten and twenty minutes, however, by the 40 minute mark, the rate of an accident increased two and a half times the risk when compared to traveling less than 20 minutes.
While the reasoning for lesser travel times being linked to increased automobile crashes was not definitively stated, researchers suggest that drivers may be prone to engaging in distracted driving behaviors on shorter trips, such as using their cell phone when they are on their most frequented roadways.
Chief Data Scientist at Dolphin and head of the study, Katharina Sallinger, stated in the study that if drivers avoided using their vehicles for short trips under six minutes, and resorted to cycling or walking, nearly 40% of the roughly six million automobile collisions could be prevented annually, which could save thousands of lives and serious injuries.
Prior studies released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have found distracted driving accounts for 94% of all automobile accidents in the U.S. with handheld mobile devices and drowsy driving among the top reasons for many highway crash fatalities.
Distracted driving has become such an epidemic across the nation that the NHTSA has begun launching annual “Distracted Driving Awareness Month” campaigns to warn drivers of the risk associated with driving distractions, particularly cell phone use and other common bad habits that commonly result in preventable crashes.
To date, 47 states and the District of Columbia have banned text messaging for drivers of all ages, and 16 states and territories have laws prohibiting drivers of all ages from using hand-held cell phones while driving. Thirty eight states and the District of Columbia have implemented laws banning the use of cell phones by teen or novice drivers.