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Why Canadians’ afternoon commute is deadlier than their morning one

Hilary Hagerman
Shine On
March 4, 2013

Do you consider yourself a better driver on your morning commute to work or your afternoon commute home? Because a new report suggests it's the former.

A report released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) looks at the number of accidents that happened during 2010 and 2011.

The data shows that evening commuters are more than twice as likely as morning commuters to get into an accident that requires hospitalization.

"During the day, the morning drive seems to be a lower risk period than the afternoon drive,” Greg Webster, CIHI’s director of primary health-care and clinic registries, tells the Canadian Press.

“And it may be that people are doing more driving at the end of the day -- running around doing chores.”

The researched shows that nearly 4,000 drivers were admitted to the hospital between 4 p.m. and midnight after being involved in collisions on public roads. But from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., only 2,600 drivers were sent to the hospital.

Also, from midnight to 8 a.m., there were 1,800 crashes that led to hospitalizations. The data did not take into account those involved in an accident and not sent to the hospital.

“When people are a bit more tired at the end of the day, maybe they’re in a bit of a rush to get home or to pick up their kids, you can see why this fact would be true,” the Canadian Automobile Association’s Ian Jack tells News 1130.

Interestingly enough, another study shows there are more accidents on Friday afternoons than any other day during the week.

“That could be a greater distraction because you’ve got the weekend ahead of you, but it can also be perhaps that you relax more,” says CIHI’s Claire Marie Fortin.

In the United States, a recent study reveals similar information. Nationwide, 49 per cent of crashes happen at night. But the study notes that, unlike Canada, the most dangerous day for travelling is Saturday, with an average of 158 fatalities every Saturday.

And while you might think that Canada’s biggest cities would have the highest accident rates, especially with Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver all in the top five worst traffic cities in North America, turns out the research found the opposite.

Toronto and Vancouver had the lowest rates of traffic injuries per 100,000 people, while St. John’s, Newfoundland and Regina, Saskatchewan had the highest. Data for Quebec was not available.

Webster also says that accident rates may be lower in cities with public transit systems.

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