They examined official statistical data on road traffic flows, supermarket occupancy rates and accident and emergency hospital admissions. The results, published in the British Medical Journal under the title “Is Friday the 13th bad for your health”, were startling.
The study showed that 1.4 percent fewer vehicles on the southern section of the M25 bewteen Junctions 7 to 10 on Friday the 13ths between 1990 and 1992 compared to the previous week.
The researchers concluded, at least 1.4 per cent of the population “are sufficiently superstituous to alter their behaviour and refrain from driving on motorways on Friday the 13th”.
Despite fewer cars on the road, the number of motor accidents in the South West Thames region rised from a total of 45 on the six Friday 6ths between 1989 and 1992, to some 65 accidents on the six Friday 13ths in the period – an increase of 52 per cent, reports The Telegraph.
The researchers remarked that the sample was “too small to allow meaningful analysis.”
However, the team led by Dr TJ Scanlon wrote: “Do drivers on A, B, C and D roads alter their behaviour, and in what way? Is the alteration – for example more wariness – a positive change making them more careful and thus reducing the chance of an accident? If so, Friday the 13th may indeed be a very unlucky day.”
“If the change in behaviour reveals itself by increased fear and anxiety, and perhaps a sense of destiny, it may reduce concentration and increase the likelihood of an accident,” the researchers claimed.
“Are people’s perceptions and beliefs self-fulfilling – if you believe something strongly enough will it in fact happen to you? While we await the answers to these difficult questions we may just have to accept that Friday the 13th is indeed unlucky for some and it might be safer to stay at home.”
Nonetheless, last January Swedish insurance company Trygg-Hansa showed that there is nothing particularly unlucky about it at all, writes The Local.
The company had investigated car accidents and came to the conclusion that there were nearly 7 percent less accidents on a Friday the 13th than on any other day.
“The reported accidents are even fewer than on other Fridays, by 3 percent,” Trygg-Hansa’s Johan Eriksson reported. The insurance company has reviewed the past five years’ worth of accidents, which number over two million.
“If you look at the results of these investigations you can see that Friday the 13th is, in fact, a lucky day. However, for car owners it can be quite the opposite as there have been more car thefts on this particular day than any other comparable day,” Eriksson said.
Statistics show that most accidents actually occur on Mondays, the day most often reported as the day of the accident.
“It probably hasn’t got so much to do with accidents actually happening on Monday, rather that they occur on the weekend but aren’t reported until Monday,” said Eriksson.