Aaron Widmar

Is It More Dangerous to Drive on Friday the 13th?

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car accident with motorcycle
Are you likely to get in a car accident on Friday the 13th?

Of all the prevailing superstitions, the belief that the number 13 is unlucky — or that Friday the 13th is a day of misfortune — is one of the most prevalent. Some people won’t leave the house or close a business deal on the 13th, and others outright avoid everything to do with the number, such as when building owners avoid granting access to the 13th floor of a building.

Similarly, some people feel averse to driving on that notorious day (or if they’re in a movie, their car might simply refuse to start!). But is it more dangerous to drive on Friday the 13th than on other days of the year? According to most studies on the subject, the answer is no. But there’s a catch.

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The statistics aren’t consistent

The data pertaining to Friday the 13th traffic accidents vary. A 1993 assessment in the British Medical Journal found an increase in transportation accidents by as much as 52% on Fridays dated 13, with researchers recommending to stay home on that day. A UK insurance company found a higher-than-average number of claims for car accidents on that date.

However, a 2002 study released in BMC Public Health found “no significant differences in any examined aspect of road injury accidents” occurring on any of the 21 Fridays that researchers examined. A 2012 study published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine found no noticeable increase in the volume of emergency room visits on Fridays with a 13th date.

Furthermore, according to the Automotive Club of California, there were no more deaths on Friday the 13th from 2002 to 2009 than on comparable Fridays, and a study carried out by the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics speculated that driving on Friday the 13th was actually safer than normal because of all the people avoiding the roads.

So what gives?

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There is no such thing as supernatural bad luck … only bad choices

It shouldn’t take an in-depth study to tell us this, but it’s true that we can influence what happens around us — or our perception of what happens — simply by having a different mindset.

For example, people who truly believe they are unlucky may make poor decisions out of pessimism or fear. An anxious attitude can inspire unhealthy or dangerous behavior. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In the same vein, drivers who expect bad things to happen on the road on Friday the 13th might directly influence events on that day because they think something bad will happen. They’ll overcorrect when changing lanes or swerve suddenly if another car gets near them. Driving while fearful is dangerous!

Upon noticing an increased probability of death for women on Friday the 13th, researchers stated in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2002 touches on this: “It is not inconceivable that on Friday the 13th women who are susceptible to superstitions obsess that something unfortunate is going to happen, which causes anxiety and the subsequent degradation of mental and motor functioning. Presumably, in women suffering from neurotic illness and situational fears, awareness of this day could produce driving errors with fatal consequences.”

In conclusion, it doesn’t seem more or less dangerous to drive on Friday the 13th than on any other Friday, even for those who have friggatriskaidekaphobia — fear of that ominous date.

Just do all the things you would normally do while behind the wheel — drive carefully, pay attention, wear your seat belt, and don’t use your phone — and you should be good to go regardless of what day it is.