Commute Smart Week

Flexible working makes fridays not so fatal

31 October 2008

Changes in working patterns have reduced death and serious injury on the roads at peak times on Fridays, according to analysis by AA road safety experts for Workwise UK's Commute Smart Week.

commute smart logo In the past Fridays were known as 'Fatal Fridays' due to the higher rate of road users killed and seriously injured in the peak rush hours. However, this trend appears to be changing.

Last year there were fewer people killed or seriously injured on Fridays from 8am – 9am and from 5pm – 6pm compared to the average rates for the same hours between Monday and Thursday.

The AA and Workwise UK believe that this may be due to a change in working patterns over the last 8 years.

The AA analysed peak period figures for accidents over the last eight years and found that the 'Fatal Friday' phenomenon is on the decline in peak periods.

In the past the higher accident rates in the Friday evening rush hour was put down to more traffic, tired drivers at the end of the week and the 'Thank God its Friday' effect leading to lack of concentration.

More recently the Friday rush has started earlier in the afternoon but later in the morning. This is due to more flexible working and home working.

Many flexible workers go to the office on a Monday to sort out their work for the week and hold meetings, but are more likely to work from home on a Friday. Mondays experience the highest morning peak delays on the roads.

Traffic is still higher on Fridays and the highest evening peak delays were experienced on Fridays. Average delay patterns for Fridays were distinctly different from the other days of the week. The morning peak was lower than other weekdays and evening peak had a much earlier build up, starting from mid-day. By 2pm on Fridays congestion was the same as morning delays mid-week.

AA analysis shows

  • In 2007 the average number killed or seriously injured between 8 – 9am on Mondays to Thursdays was 287 compared to 251 on Friday. 36 less on Friday
  • In 2000 the average number killed or seriously injured between 8 – 9am on Mondays to Thursdays was 370 compared to 408 on Friday. 38 more on Friday
  • In 2007 the average number killed or seriously injured between 5 – 6pm on Mondays to Thursdays was 377 compared to 356 on Friday. 21 less on Friday
  • In 2000 the average number killed or seriously injured between 5 – 6pm on Mondays to Thursdays was 516 compared to 590 on Friday. 75 more on Friday

Despite improvements in peak periods Friday still holds the 'Fatal Friday' label in terms of total numbers killed or seriously injured on Fridays compared to other days of the week. This is down to more traffic, people getting away for the weekend and the drink drive effect on Friday evenings.

  • In 2007 the average number killed or seriously injured Mondays to Thursdays was 4,202 compared to 4,877 on Fridays
  • In 2000 the average number killed or seriously injured Mondays to Thursdays was 5,531 compared to 6,929

AA comment

Commenting, Edmund King, AA president said: "Changes in our working patterns appear to be having an effect on the roads. In the past the Friday rush hour resulted in far more accidents but more flexible working seems to have diminished the fatal Friday phenomenon.

"Changing the way we work can change our lives in more ways than one. However, in overall terms Fridays on the road still experience the most delays and most deaths. Further increases in flexible working would result in fewer delays and fewer deaths."

Work Wise UK comment

Phil Flaxton, chief executive of Work Wise UK, said: "Commute Smart Week aims to demonstrate the advantages of smarter commuting and working, but this analysis also shows it can have a positive effect on congestion and the number of accidents.

"More people working from home more often will reduce their overall requirement to travel, reducing traffic congestion and accidents, whereas allowing more flexible working will enable commuters to avoid travelling during peak times, easing the strain when congestion is at its height ".

Factfile

Commute Smart Week runs from 26 October to 1 November

Figures taken from Transport Statistics Great Britain 2007

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31 October 2008