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Why do accident fatality rates rise at night?

Statistically speaking, driving at night is more dangerous than driving during the day. It's not because there are more car accidents. There are fewer. However, the odds of passing away in an accident start to climb as it gets dark.

Why is this? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found a few consistent reasons. The first one is speed. Did you know that in 30 percent of all deadly accidents, excessive speed is a factor? Just staying under the limit can help keep you alive, but people struggle to do it.

As you may have guessed, alcohol use also factors in. People are more likely to be killed in alcohol-related accidents at night. In fact, 54 percent of the deadly crashes during the night can be traced back to alcohol use, while the same is true for a mere 18 percent of the deadly daytime accidents.

Curiously, seat belt use also wanes at night. Roughly 66 percent of those who die at night don't have a seat belt on. Of course, this could also be due to alcohol use, which can impair judgment and make it harder to remember things like a seat belt, which would be remembered during the day.

All told, roughly half of the deadly accidents in the United States -- 49 percent -- occur at night. Considering the massive drop in overall traffic levels, that means the death rate per vehicle mile traveled is three times what it is during the day.

Staying home at night may not be an option, no matter how dangerous it is to get on the road. If you're hit by a driver who is impaired, speeding or otherwise negligent, make sure you know all of your legal rights to compensation.

Source: Forbes, "Most Dangerous Times To Drive," Hannah Elliott, accessed Aug. 25, 2017

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