KSL INVESTIGATES

Autumn, not winter, is Utah’s most accident-prone season

Oct 4, 2023, 10:54 PM | Updated: Oct 5, 2023, 8:58 am

SALT LAKE CITY — As Utahns know, snow days mean plenty of wrecks. But what even the most seasoned of Utah drivers might not know: it’s not the snow days about which they should be the most concerned.

“Fall is the season where they have the most accidents,” said Carfax’s editor-in-chief Patrick Olsen.

Carfax, the vehicle history report website, delved into millions of accident reports and shared their most recent findings with the KSL Investigators. Their data shows that, in Utah, most damage-causing crashes occur in autumn. But it’s not just Utah. Their research finds the same holds true for all but 11 states.

“To me, it was a little surprising,” Olsen said. “I would have expected it to be winter.”

The biggest reason fall is most precarious is the diminishing daylight, he says.

“You’re twice as likely to have an accident in the dark.”

And when the sun is there, it sits lower in the sky during autumn says Olsen. That can create a strong glare across the windshield making it difficult to see the road let alone other drivers and pedestrians.

“Whether you’re driving into work or driving home from work, that can be blinding,” he said. “So, keep your sunglasses. It seems weird to have it when it’s 40 degrees out…but it (solar glare) is right in your line of sight if you’re in a place that’s flat.”

Another big factor: slick surfaces can result from more than just ice and snow.

“When you get wet leaves on the ground, they are slippery as ice.”

Yeah, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on a dry road, coming to a stop from highway speeds takes about 80 feet. If you hit wet leaves, it can take up to 200 feet for your car to stop.

And, oh deer, watch out for deer. The week after Daylight Saving Time ends falls right smack dab in the middle of deer mating season. A nasty combination that leads to deer strikes spiking as much as 16%, Olsen says.

“So, all these things come together to make fall kind of a dangerous time,” he said.

The data shows that, while fall is the most dangerous for damage-causing accidents, winter is certainly no picnic.

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Autumn, not winter, is Utah’s most accident-prone season