Ascension Day: year’s deadliest day on Belgian roads
“With an average of four deaths per 24h, the Ascension Day is the deadliest day of the year on Belgian roads” says the IBSR/BIVV, “Accidents are also more serious. Crashes happening during the Ascension weekend are in average two-times more serious than during the New Year or Christmas period”. They are also fewer than on Whit Monday (41 against 115).
The Waloon Agency for Road Safety (AWSR) and the Belgian Institute for Road Safety (IBSR/BIVV) have identified the deadliest and more accident-prone days of the year thanks to data collected over three years (from 2013 to 2015) to average weather variations. Results are unlike you would normally expect.
Shaking again our presumptions, the IBSR also informs that 68% of accidents happening on Ascension Day or Whit Monday are happening during the day. In terms of perspective, during the New Year period 76% of accidents happen at night-time.
Better weather, more accidents
Another element that could explain the higher death toll on Ascension Day: when the weather is better, bicycles and motorbikes are out. After some months of hibernation, bikers have to be cautious during their first days on the road and car drivers have to pay attention to the change in traffic flow.
According to the IBSR/BIVV, the worst day for accidents is a combination of dry, relatively warm and sunny weather. In those circumstances bodily injuries are 10% more frequent than when the weather is normal. “When the temperature raises, the risk of accidents and the number of accidents increases”, says Benoît Godart, spokesperson for the IBSR.
“During high heat peaks, we note a decrease in divers’ concentration or even a reduction of global intellectual performance”. More so, heat intensifies stress and irritability. In that weather, bodily injuries increase, but material damages decrease, witch can be explained by the higher number of pedestrians, cyclists and bikers, often on the weekend.
Drunk driving: main death cause
On Ascension Day and Whit Monday in the period from 2013 to 2015 in Wallonia, nearly 30% of drivers implicated in a severe accident were under the influence of alcohol, according to the AWSR. There were only 15% tested positive during the rest of the year. Drunk driving is still more frequent during public holidays like New Year (43%), End of War Commemoration and All Saint’s Day (34%).
Contrary to that, only 14,7% of drivers were caught drunk driving during the Christmas period, thanks to the Bob campaign. Note that during public holidays half of the accidents don’t implicate more than one car. Alcohol, tiredness, distractions and excessive speed are leading factors in those types of accidents.