Study: 25% of car accidents happen in first 3 minutes of driving

The shorter the trip, the better the chances of being involved in an automobile accident, according to an Austrian telematics provider.

Dolphin Technologies said its new study, based on anonymized data obtained through its devices installed in vehicles, analyzed 3.2 million car trips by 40,000 people in 2018 and 2019, in which a total of 1,986 accidents occurred.

Trip duration and relative risk of accidents (Courtesy: Dolphin Technologies)

Dolphin said its data showed that 87% of most trips last less than 30 minutes, while only 1% of all trips last longer than an hour.

The study said a closer look at short trips, defined as trips lasting less than 10 minutes, revealed a quarter of all accidents occurred during the first three minutes of driving, and another 14% within the first six minutes.

“This study shows that if we could encourage people to give up their cars for short distances, up to 40% of all accidents could be avoided,” said Katharina Sallinger, Chief Data Scientist at Dolphin and head of the study.

“We want to support people in being on the road safely. Knowing which behavior leads to accidents enables us to make targeted recommendations, and thus to minimize risks,” Sallinger said.

According to the study, the lowest risk of accident “in relative terms” was for trips lasting between 10 and 20 minutes.

“After that, the risk rises disproportionately. If you are in the car for more than 40 minutes, you already have two and a half times the risk than if you are driving for less than 20 minutes,” the company said in a news release.

Dolphin said tips to reduce accidents include:

  • Avoid short trips if possible and cycle or walk
  • For longer journeys, plan and keep regular breaks
  • Do not use your cellphone while driving. It causes 26% of accidents

“A self-induced accident is often the result of wrong decisions or lack of information,” said Dolphin CEO Harald Trautsch. “One drives tired, drunk, or uses the phone at the wheel. Or one doesn’t know that extreme weather conditions such as black ice prevail on the route.”

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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