If you have ever found yourself driving on unfamiliar roads, you know just how chaotic and confusing it gets. You feel overwhelmed and out of place. This, in turn, makes you feel like it’s far more likely that you’ll get into an accident. After all, one little mistake in an area you’ve never been before is all that it takes.
But are the risks actually higher? Studies show that they’re not. In reality, most crashes happen relatively close to where you live. Let’s take a look at some reasons why these familiar roads see so many accidents.
First off, you simply spend far more time driving on these roads near your home. Say you work within five miles of your house. You drive that commute every single day. You probably shop near your home, as well. Maybe you visit neighbors and friends. Perhaps you live just a few blocks from the school that your kids attend.
How often do you go on long road trips or business trips? Odds are that you do about 95 percent of your driving by your house, so it’s natural that you’d face the most risks on these roads you know so well.
There’s also something to be said for complacency. When you drive on unfamiliar roads, if you feel overwhelmed and nervous, it can actually help you. It makes you focus. You’re more dialed in and you really pay attention to every road sign, every turn and everything happening around you.
On your daily commute, it’s a lot easier to drive on “autopilot.” You do this every day. You don’t think about it. You may zone out or start daydreaming. You assume that you won’t crash. Since you’re not quite as focused, that can actually increase the odds of a wreck.
Another potential issue is boredom. If you spend years driving the same route to work and back, it gets very old. You naturally start looking for ways to distract yourself from that boredom. You may check your phone, read a text message, turn up the radio, grab something to eat or just start to daydream and think about things that feel more engaging.
It’s a natural reaction, but it’s risky. When you purposely focus on things besides driving, you do not react as quickly and you make mistakes that you could have easily avoided. That boredom can put you in serious trouble.
After a crash
Understanding that you face higher risks near home means that you can take steps to avoid a crash, such as refraining from texting and driving and trying to focus on the road. However, another driver may still cause a wreck that you can’t avoid. Make sure you know what to do after the crash.