Revealed: The riskiest time to drive, walk and cycle – Alastair Dalton

Five people died in this minibus crash on the A96 in Moray, adding to last year's road death toll. Picture: Michal Wachucik/PA Wire
Five people died in this minibus crash on the A96 in Moray, adding to last year's road death toll. Picture: Michal Wachucik/PA Wire
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Road injuries peak at different times, days and months depending on how you get about, according to a new Transport Scotland compendium of casualty statistics.

Take care if you’re driving today – it’s one of the most dangerous days of the year to be behind the wheel. Fridays in November are the peak for car casualties, I discovered amidst a mass of fascinating, if sobering statistics about road crashes in Scotland published this week.

Transport Scotland’s latest Reported Road Casualties report also highlighted that the number of people killed on the country’s roads increased last year, bucking a remarkable downward trend that has seen the death toll halved since 2006.

The total went up by 16 to 161 – one more than in the provisional figures published in June.

“Road deaths are not an inevitability and they should not be expected to happen,” Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said of the figure, while also noting that total road casualties are at their lowest since records began – albeit more than 8,400.

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So beware, especially from 5-6pm, when car casualty rates are one third higher than in the morning peak from 8-9am.

While November – when the clocks have just gone back – is the peak casualty month, they are at their lowest in September. Fridays are 14 per cent worse than the daily average.

If you’re on foot, the riskiest time is also late Friday afternoon, 4-6pm on weekdays and 4-7pm at weekends. November and December see the highest number of casualties – more than 40 per cent above the average.

For cyclists, it’s a case of watch out on Wednesdays especially because that’s when they are most likely to be hurt.

Casualty numbers are a surprising 27 per cent higher then than the weekly average. By contrast, the number on Sundays is more than 40 per cent lower.

August and September are the worst months for cycle injuries, and at peak hours, 4-7pm and 7-9am. At weekends, casualties peak from 11am-noon.

Serious-injury rate for children

But it’s a different picture for motorcyclists. Casualties hit a peak in June, with weekends worst, then 4-6pm on weekdays.

For children, after school is when they are most at risk, with nearly one third of weekday casualties between 3pm and 5pm, and a further quarter from 5-9pm.

August – the month when pupils return at most Scottish schools – is the casualty peak, nearly one fifth higher than average. Interestingly, Thursday is the worst day.

Child casualty rates also increase with age, with primary pupils at double the risk of under-fives, with the rate increasing by half as much again for 12 to 15 year-olds.

However, there is a significant gender imbalance – the serious injury rate among pre-school boys is three times that of girls. The overall rate for children is also almost twice that of adult pedestrians.

These may be just figures, but behind them lies real heartache – the latest being a nine-year-old girl who was seriously injured at 3:20pm on Wednesday when she was hit by a car near ­Kilwinning Academy in North Ayrshire.

One other thing – as the weather turns colder, and possibly wetter this autumn, you might think the risk of being seriously injured on the roads would increase. However, the figures show lower rates when roads are wet, flooded, or covered in snow and ice than in dry conditions. Nearly 24 per cent of crashes on dry rural roads were classed as serious compared to 20 per cent of those on wet ones and 15 per cent of those in snow and ice.