Annual autumn clock change increases road accident risk

Friday, November 11, 2016


As the days grow shorter, darker and the clocks have turned back, Insure The Box telematics insurance providers have predicted that the risk of accident in the month of November will increase by 10%. 


According to the insurance providers, driving between the hours of 5pm to 8pm dramatically increases the risk of an accident by up to 30%. This figure is significantly higher than figures recorded in the month before the autumnal clock change.


Insure the Box became one of the first insurers to introduce black-box technology in 2010, providing motorists with potentially cheaper policies in return for their behind-the-wheel skills being monitored and utilised in data analysis.


The company analysed 11,700 UK accidents that were claimed for between the months of October-November in 2013-2015. These accidents coincided with incident timings to conclude a direct correlation between the risk of accidents occurring in the hours of 5-8pm and the clocks going back.


The findings, based on three years worth of accident data taken from over 330,000 Insure The Box administered policies, assessed nearly 3 billion miles of driving data and associated claims. When an accident occurs, the black box in the policyholder’s car alerts Insure The Box of the exact time so that the emergency services are notified. 


Charlotte Halkett, general manager of communications for the insurance company commented: “There is no doubt accident risk increases as a direct result of the clocks going back one hour in [the] autumn.” 


She cautioned that for many new drivers, the evenings after the clock change would be their first experience of driving in the dark and the direct correlation between accident risk and autumnal clock change trebles in the early evening hours when the light goes. 


Whilst Insure the Box acknowledged that reported accident rates also rose in winter due to poorer weather conditions, there was a profound 'snap change' in previous years when the clocks went back.


Car parts chain Halfords stated that one of the major contributing factors to the increase in danger on the roads is a lack of visibility due to car/motorcycle headlight bulbs not functioning properly. 


Research conducted by the company concluded that around 2.6 million cars are being driven on UK roads with defective lights.


Of the motorists surveyed, 1 in 10 were found to have “a failed headlight, sidelight, rear or brake light” significantly increasing the risk of their vehicle causing an accident in the coming months. 


The company also found that 17% of motorists were unsure that all the lights on their vehicle were working correctly, while 41% were worried about being seen by other drivers or had experienced difficulty reading road signs when driving in the dark.


However, faulty lighting was not the only issue associated with increased accident risk and dangerous roads.  Twenty Two per cent of the 4,000 drivers questioned admitted they tired more quickly behind the wheel as a result of darker nights. 


Ella Colley, car bulb expert for Halfords, said: “At this time of year, poor visibility is common on the roads and with the clocks going back it’s even more crucial that drivers are extra vigilant and do their best to see and be seen and take regular breaks to avoid tiring.


“Driving with defective lights can be risky. It’s estimated that there over 800,000 vehicles on UK roads with lights that are not up to a safe MOT standard it is also against the law to drive with a defective bulb. Poor lighting and defective car bulbs can make judging gaps and overtaking a real hazard. And broken brake lights can give drivers behind less time to react.” 


RIAS, car insurance providers for the over 50 driver, conducted research finding 21% of drivers do not make any safety checks outside of taking their car for its annual MOT. 


This research highlights the importance of making basic checks before travelling during the darker, winter months. By making sure oil and brake fluid are at safe levels, and regularly reviewing wear and tear on tyre tread and windscreen wipers, can significantly mitigate a motorist's overall risk of falling victim to a collision.

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