What Time of Day Are Car Accidents Most Likely to Happen?

Clayton T. Hasbrook

Written by Clayton T. Hasbrook. Last modified on February 19, 2024

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It may sound far-fetched to suggest that certain months, days, or hours could be more dangerous for driving, but crash statistics indicate otherwise.  Our lawyers combed through the most recent data from the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office to pick out which times of day, days of the week, and months of the year had the highest crashes and collisions.   

Does Time of Day Affect the Likelihood of a Car Accident Occurring?rush hour traffic

If statistics are any indication, the answer to this question is a resounding yes.  However, the data paints a somewhat surprising picture. You would probably expect the most accidents to occur at night, when drivers are tired, contending with reduced visibility, and sometimes, returning home intoxicated from parties and bars.  However, OHSO crash records indicate that most crashes and collisions occur during the day.  OHSO found that daytime accidents were just over three times more likely than nighttime accidents.  Unexpectedly, OHSO data also indicates that the amount of lighting has virtually no impact on the frequency of nighttime crashes, with a slim difference of just 282 accidents between crashes with lighting and crashes without lighting. The following statistics are sourced from the OHSO report on statewide crashes, the most recent data available:

  • Daylight – 49,455 crashes
  • Darkness – 7,796 crashes (with lighting), 8,078 crashes (without lighting), 205 crashes (lighting unknown)

Dusk and Dawn had similar accident rates.  Accidents were only slightly more likely to occur during dusk, with a difference of 333 crashes:

  • Dawn – 1,001 crashesDawn – 1,001 crashes
  • Dusk – 1,334 crashes

These statistics are remarkably consistent with data from the previous year.  In 2013 and 2014, daylight crashes were precisely 3.1 times more likely than nighttime crashes.  2013 also saw a similar gap of 479 accidents between dawn and dusk crashes, with accidents again more likely to occur during dusk than dawn. OHSO further breaks down the data into which hours of the day were most prone to crashes.  The fewest number of accidents by a considerable margin, with a total of 565 crashes, occurred between the hours of 4:00 A.M. and 5:00 A.M.  By comparison, 11 times more accidents – a total of 6,413 crashes – were reported between the hours of 5:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. when most Oklahomans are driving home from work.

Are Car Accidents More Likely to Be Fatal at Certain Times of the Day?

Car accidents are more likely to result in wrongful death at certain times of day. Factors such as low visibility during nighttime or early morning hours, increased traffic congestion during rush hour, or drowsy drivers during late-night rides contribute to the higher fatality rate. Understanding these risks can help individuals take appropriate precautions and ensure safer roads for everyone.

Does Time of Day Affect the Likelihood of a Car Accident Occurring?

If statistics are any indication, the answer to this question is a resounding yes.  However, the data paints a somewhat surprising picture. You would probably expect the most accidents to occur at night, when drivers are tired, contending with reduced visibility, and sometimes, returning home intoxicated from parties and bars.  However, OHSO crash records indicate that most crashes and collisions occur during the day.  OHSO found that daytime accidents were just over three times more likely than nighttime accidents.  Unexpectedly, OHSO data also indicates that the amount of lighting has virtually no impact on the frequency of nighttime crashes, with a slim difference of just 282 accidents between crashes with lighting and crashes without lighting. The following statistics are sourced from the OHSO report on statewide crashes, the most recent data available:

  • Daylight – 49,455 crashesDaylight – 49,455 crashes
  • Darkness – 7,796 crashes (with lighting), 8,078 crashes (without lighting), 205 crashes (lighting unknown)

Dusk and Dawn had similar accident rates.  Accidents were only slightly more likely to occur during dusk, with a difference of 333 crashes:

  • Dawn – 1,001 crashes
  • Dusk – 1,334 crashes

These statistics are remarkably consistent with data from the previous year.  In 2013 and 2014, daylight crashes were precisely 3.1 times more likely than nighttime crashes.  2013 also saw a similar gap of 479 accidents between dawn and dusk crashes, with accidents again more likely to occur during dusk than dawn. OHSO further breaks down the data into which hours of the day were most prone to crashes.  The fewest number of accidents by a considerable margin, with a total of 565 crashes, occurred between the hours of 4:00 A.M. and 5:00 A.M.  By comparison, 11 times more accidents – a total of 6,413 crashes – were reported between the hours of 5:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. when most Oklahomans are driving home from work.

OK Drivers Are Most Likely to Crash on Fridays in October

It isn’t just the time of day that impacts your likelihood of getting into an accident – it’s also the day of the week and even the month of the year.  OHSO found that in 2014, more accidents occurred during October (6,316) than in any other month.  At the other end of the spectrum, accidents were least likely to occur during February, with 5,265 crashes reported.  Despite having only three more days than February, October still saw 1,051 more accidents. This may be partially attributable to the increased frequency of drunk driving accidents around Halloween.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), on Halloween nights from 2009 to 2013, nearly 45% of all traffic-related deaths involved drunk driving.  To put that figure into perspective, drunk driving fatalities (172 total) accounted for only 25.7% of overall drunk driving fatalities in Oklahoma in 2014 (669 total). The other months ranked in the following order, from most to fewest accidents:

  1. November – 6,065 crashesOK Drivers Are Most Likely to Crash on Fridays in October
  2. December – 5,994 crashes
  3. May – 5,993 crashes
  4. September – 5,856 crashes
  5. August – 5,855 crashes
  6. April – 5,598 crashes
  7. March – 5,465 crashes
  8. July – 5,366 crashes
  9. June – 5,282 crashes
  10. January – 5,272 crashes

Likewise, certain days of the week were more accident-prone than others, but the statistics are somewhat surprising.  You might guess that accidents tend to occur on weekends, when people are more likely to travel, run errands, and drink – but in fact, Saturdays and Sundays saw the lowest numbers of crashes.  This may be due to the high accident rate during commuting hours, with more crashes occurring from 5:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. than any other time of day.  According to OHSO data, the safest day for drivers is Sunday, with more accidents occurring on Friday than any other day of the week.  The days of the week are ranked in the following order:

  1. Friday – 11,793 crashesFriday – 11,793 crashes
  2. Wednesday – 10,447 crashes
  3. Thursday – 10,384 crashes
  4. Tuesday – 10,191 crashes
  5. Monday – 10,022 crashes
  6. Saturday – 8,490 crashes
  7. Sunday – 7,000 crashes
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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Clayton T. Hasbrook who has years of legal experience as a personal injury lawyer. Our last modified date shows when this page was last reviewed.