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Are you really more likely to be in a crash close to home?

In the past few years, you may have heard about a lot of research indicating that most car crashes occur when you are close to home compared with when you are out on long road trips. Is there any truth to this?

Yes, actually, there is, and it is an interesting phenomenon.

Letting your guard down

Accidents can and do happen anywhere. You can sustain an injury one street over from your home or across the country. That said, near home is where drivers tend to let their guard down. They have driven the same route so many times that their brains take a break. They know automatically when and where to turn and might not give a second thought to checking text messages. If something unpredictable happens such as a bicyclist crossing the road, the driver may not necessarily see the cyclist due to all of this relaxation. Have you ever gotten home from a long day at work only to realize you do not remember your drive home? That is this phenomenon at work, and it can be scary to think about.

Conversely, when you are in unfamiliar surroundings, your brain fires on more cylinders. You actively seek out potential obstacles and find ways to minimize risks.

How close to home?

Relaxation aside, a big reason that many car accidents occur close to home is because “close to home” is where you drive much of the time. Say you are driving 20 minutes to a shopping mall. You will be “close to home” for a good chunk of that time, both when you leave and return.

The point is, research from various sources may show that most accidents occur within, say, 5 miles or 25 miles of home, but trying to pin down exact numbers is almost beside the point. Drivers should focus on staying vigilant no matter where they are. For example, they need to stay off their phones and wear their seat belts.