This coming Friday may be of note for the more superstitious among us as it also happens to be the 13th day of the month, a day traditionally associated with bad luck and misfortune.
Thankfully this year is much better for those of you who suffer from paraskavedekatriaphobia (the fear of Friday the 13th), as Friday only falls on the 13th of the month once in 2016. This will be a relief after the three occurrences last year! We don’t have another one to contend with until January next year.
While various theories have been proposed over the years, from the religious to the ridiculous, exactly why or when Friday the 13th became associated with bad luck remains unclear.
Regardless of its origin, this particular superstition is now deeply ingrained in many cultures and has its fair share of believers.
In fact, it has even been estimated that this phobia may cost the US economy as much as $900m in lost productivity as people actively avoid work. One of the most dangerous activities we engage in everyday and supposedly an activity some are likely to avoid on Friday the 13th is driving.
So how do the stats stack up when it comes to driving and is there any evidence to support this old superstition?
One study based on claims data by the UK insurer Norwich Union actually did appear to show an increase in the number of claims for car accidents when the 13th of the month was also a Friday. Both the number of claims and the value of those claims were found to be higher than the average, while claims when the 13th did not fall on a Friday were actually lower.
Stranger still, claims were found to increase by a factor of 13%.
Similarly, a piece of research published in the British Medical Journal in the 1990s found that the number of admittances to hospitals from road accidents significantly increased on Friday the 13th.
Despite the researchers finding that there were fewer cars on the road, possibly due to superstitious motorists avoiding travel, this increase may have been as high as 52%.
While these studies are interesting, we won’t be recommending you leave the car at home this Friday the 13th just yet.
Although studies showing an increase in claims on Friday the 13th may seem convincing at first, it is worth noting that Fridays in general may be one of the most dangerous driving days, so higher than average claims on Friday may be expected. Coincidentally, in many parts of Europe starting a journey on a Friday is considered bad luck, this is thought to be linked to the fact Christ was crucified on a Friday.
And although the British Medical Journal article is oft-cited as evidence of Black Friday’s rotten luck, the researchers themselves have said that the sample size was far too small to form any conclusions. A study carried out by the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics has even found that driving on Friday the 13th may in fact be slightly safer than average.
In our opinion, this is one superstition which you probably shouldn’t pay too much heed to. Our advice remains the same on Friday the 13th as any other day of the year - take due care while driving, respect other road users, obey the rules of the road and make sure your car insurance is up to date. Make sure not to text while driving either!
And while our great value car insurance can’t exactly stop you having an accident, it does offer you great coverage with a host of extra benefits every day of the year – even Friday the 13th!