Research has revealed the five most common dangers behind the wheel, led by bad driving and followed by road type, shift length, sun position and day of the week.
Masternaut analysed telematics data covering 192,503,863 kilometres driven (around 120 million miles), over the course of 4,121,283 driving hours, and not surprisingly found the driver poses the biggest risk, further underlining the benefits of the advent of fully autonomous vehicles. The research also analysed the most common warning signs of bad driving behaviour. Harsh braking came in at number one, followed by harsh cornering and speeding.
Road type is the second biggest factor in the likelihood of an accident occurring and the data reinforces the commonly cited fact that motorways are the safest roads. In general, these roads provide better flow, and while speeds are higher, cars are also usually further apart, avoiding the need to brake and accelerate so frequently, and completely removing the need to corner. Urban roads come out as the most dangerous, with higher levels of harsh braking witnessed, while may be due in part to the stop-start of city traffic, urban areas also carry higher levels of vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists.
The research also reflected the need for businesses employing commercial drivers to factor in shift length. On average, the report showed that a driver performs 50% more harsh braking events during their last hour of driving, compared to their first hour. This has serious implications both for people completing long journeys for work, or for those travelling for personal reasons. Planning regular stopovers or breaks are essential, as is businesses planning shift lengths to reflect driver fatigue.
Sun position came in fourth place in the list of risks, with the research finding there is a 13.9% higher rate of harsh braking when the sun is prominent, likely due to dazzle or overconfidence. Perhaps surprisingly, the frequency of harsh braking actually decreases during rain and snow as drivers become more cautious. Time of year also plays a factor – research from the RAC Foundation reveals that there are 20% more crashes per day when daylight saving ends and the clocks go back.
Finally, days of the week. On weekdays, harsh braking remains consistent, but increases drastically (by 21%) during the weekend. Factors for this likely include drivers feeling more relaxed, with fewer cars around, making it easier for them to accelerate and causing more of a surprise when they come across other vehicles.
Dhruv Parekh, CEO of Masternaut, said: “With a majority of drivers claiming to be better than average, it’s interesting to see once again that it’s behaviour which is the key influencer in road accidents. However as we head into the darkest time of the year, all drivers need to be conscious of planning their journeys where possible to use the safest roads, and travel for safe lengths of time, at the safest times of the day. For businesses planning shift patterns, this is particularly important, with those driving for work being one of the highest risk groups on the road.”