Caution, Ideal Driving Conditions Ahead: 81% of all road traffic accidents occurred in daylight and fine weather

Now that summer has arrived and the sun is (sometimes) shining, road users are advised to take extra care, as contrary to popular belief, considerably more road traffic accidents happen in daylight and in fine weather than in darkness, snow or fog.

Four in five (81% – 549,000) of all slight, serious and fatal accidents reported between 2014 and 2018 happened in ‘fine, no high wind’ weather conditions, with 62% (416,995) happening in ‘fine, no high winds’ weather conditions and daylight.

This is compared to just 0.5% of accidents taking place in snow (3,662) and 0.5% (3,233) in fog or mist.

The majority of accidents happened between just 21-30 MPH (422,305), with just 3% (21,884) of all accidents happening at 61-70 MPH and 3% (25,929) at speeds over 70+ MPH.

The insight is revealed following a study conducted by Carole Nash using Department of Transport data on all road traffic accidents between 2014 and 20181, plus a survey run with 1,000 regular UK road usersand 5,000 motorcyclists specifically3. The findings show many drivers and riders are unaware of the weather, speed and road conditions where an accident is most likely to happen.

Most common weather conditions for all RTAs

Top (known) weather conditions during all slight, serious or fatal road traffic accidents (between 2014 and 2018):

  1. Fine, no high winds: 549,000 (81%)
  2. Raining, no high winds: 74,805 (11%)
  3. Raining, high winds: 8,463 (1%)
  4. Fine, high winds: 7,565 (1%)
  5. Snowing: 3,662 (0.5%)
  6. Fog or mist: 3,233 (0.5%)

Top (known) speed limits during all slight, serious or fatal road traffic accidents (between 2014 and 2018):

  1. 21-30 MPH: 422,305 (63%)
  2. 51-60 MPH: 89,117 (13%)
  3. 31-40 MPH: 55,702 (8%)
  4. 1-20 MPH: 34,748 (5%)
  5. 41-50 MPH: 25,893 (4%)

The supporting survey data of 1,000 road users2 shows that the driving conditions UK motorists (and motorcyclists) expect the majority of road traffic accidents to occur in was ‘darkness and snow/ice’ (24%), followed by ‘daylight and wet weather’ (17%) and ‘darkness and wet weather’ (16%).

Only one in ten (10%) correctly identified ‘daylight, fine weather’ as the conditions in which most road traffic accidents occur.

The location, speed, road type and lighting conditions most associated with any road traffic accident were London, at 21-30 MPH on an A road, in daylight – these were commonly ‘slight’ accidents.

The survey also identified that most road users do claim to adapt their driving or riding style depending on the weather conditions.

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