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Many people are afraid of driving during the often brutal Michigan winters: maneuvering icy roads or navigating through snow storms so thick that you cannot see two feet in front of your windshield. On the other hand, some folks dread the clogged highways that are the hallmark of summer—people travelling back and forth, from up North and then back to lower parts of the state, for example. However, a new study by the University of Michigan Safety Institute in Ann Arbor revealed that the fall is actually the most dangerous time of year for deadly driving.

Michael Sivak at U of M analyzed monthly crash death figures for the U.S. from 1994 to 2006 and found that October had a death rate of 10.2 per billion kilometers. April’s death rate paled in comparison—8.8 per billion kilometers. So why is the fall so dangerous for driving-related fatalities? According to Peter Kissinger of AAA, a key factor could be the reduced daylight that we experience in the fall season—driving risks at night are much greater than during the day. However, Sivak believes it is a combination of factors, including the relative warmth that early fall offers and the longer periods of darkness—meaning people are more likely to drive around when the weather is still mild, but also end up spending more time driving in the dark because of the reduction in the amount of daylight we experience during the fall.

According to Sivak’s study that covered a period of 13 years, traffic deaths in the U.S. fell from 10.7 to 8.8 per billion kilometers driven. Furthermore, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced this month that traffic-related fatalities dropped by 9% from last year. However, traffic safety advocates warn that these figures do not give drivers a license to forget traffic safety rules and guidelines. While it is especially important to be an alert and safe driver during the treacherous winter months and in the busy summer months, Sivak’s study emphasizes that it is important to drive safely year-round.


  1. Gravatar for Steve Lombardi

    This is a good post to warn people when to be on the lookout and to be more careful drivers.

  2. Gravatar for Mike Bryant

    I didn't know this information about fall, although it does make a lot of sense. I always wondered about spring and people speeding up. But the light is so important and the need to pay attention. Interesting post.

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