Legally Reviewed by:

Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

Over $400 Million worth of case results

Awarded The Best Lawyer in 2024 by U.S. News

Nationally Recognized in Legal Community

Holiday car accident statistics

Statistics prove that holiday travel can be the most dangerous time of the year when visiting relatives and friends, camping, or vacationing. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety [1], more car accidents occur during December around the holidays than at any other time of the year. Here, our attorneys review holiday car accident statistics.

Were you injured in a holiday car accident, or did you lose a loved one through a wrongful death caused by another’s negligence? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can ensure you or someone you love receives the financial compensation you deserve for your damages.

Contact our car accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or through the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All information you share with our attorneys remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) [2], 102 car accident fatalities occur per day on average in the U.S. However, 119 car crash fatalities are reported every day during the country’s major holidays on average.

Many accidents are caused by increased traffic, drunk driving, distracted driving, adverse weather conditions, dangerous roads, stress, fatigue, and not understanding the driving risks on holiday weekends.

National Safety Council (NSC) Holiday Car Accidents Statistics

Statistics reveal more motor vehicle crash deaths will occur during the holidays than other times of the year when an estimated 100 million people are expected to travel during the Christmas and New Year’s seasons. Data shows that drivers consume more alcohol and drive at a higher rate of speed during the holiday season than during non-holiday periods, leading to increased drunk driving accidents.

In the U.S., the major holidays include New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and the weeks around Christmas and New Year’s Day. The U.S. Department of Transportation [3] statistics revealed the number of holiday travel fatalities for the five major holidays and the days of each holiday season. They include:

  • Memorial Day– 523 deaths over 3.5 days (2018) & 546 fatalities over 3.5 days (est. 2019)
  • Fourth of July– 194 fatalities over 1.5 days (2018) & 594 deaths over 4.5 days (est. 2019)
  • Labor Day – 414 fatalities over 3.5 days (2018) & 448 deaths over 3.5 days (est. 2019)
  • Thanksgiving– 513 deaths over 4.5 days (2018) & 454 deaths over 4.5 days (est. 2019)
  • Christmas to New Year’s Day– 1,093 deaths over 11.5 days (2018) & 799 deaths over 11.5 days (est. 2019)

New Year’s Day

According to national statistics, nearly 400 people died on American roadways during the New Year’s Day holiday season. Most statisticians identify the New Year’s Day season to range between 1.25 days and 4.25 days, depending on which day New Year’s Eve falls.

New Year’s Eve is considered the heaviest drinking day of the year in the U.S., as many Americans bring in the new year by attending parties at bars, clubs, and holiday event venues. Disturbing New Year’s Day accident statistics include:

  • The National Safety Council (NSC) [4] estimates that over 380 people will be killed on U.S. highways during the New Year’s holiday season in 2021
  • NSC [5] statistics show that nearly 44,000 people will suffer a severe injury requiring medical attention during the New Year’s holiday season in 2021
  • There are more drunk drivers arrested during the early hours of January 1st than on the 4th of July each year
  • It takes over one hour for the average person to metabolize a standard drink, including 2 ounces of hard liquor, 6 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer, increasing the uncertainty of drinking dangers
  • Many New Year’s revelers who are still drunk or hungover get behind the wheel, not knowing that they could be intoxicated
  • Statistics show that drunk drivers will drive intoxicated over 80 times before their first drunk driving arrest
  • The number of drunk driving accidents occurring on New Year’s Eve is only one half of what it was during the 1980s

Memorial Day

National safety agencies estimate that over 400 people will be killed on American roadways during the Memorial Day holiday from Friday evening until late Monday night. The United States observes Memorial Day on the last Monday in May every year.

For many, Memorial Day typically begins early afternoon on Friday and lasts until Monday at midnight. The extended weekend provides the perfect opportunity for relatives, friends, and couples to travel, visit sites, and vacation.

By late spring, many families choose to travel by automobile over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The dense freeways and congested traffic give Memorial Day the highest fatality rate of all holidays per passenger mile.

Many people celebrate the warmer months with excessive alcohol consumption at the beginning of the summer, the leading contributing factor to nearly all severe motor vehicle crashes over the Memorial Day weekend.

The 4th of July

Independence Day (July 4th) is one of the nation’s widely observed holidays. Coincidentally, over the last decade, Independence Day has had the highest accident statistics.

  • In 2017, over 274 deaths were reported nationwide over the July 4th weekend
  • In 2018, 392 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes from July 3rd until July 5th
  • Approximately 40% of all July 4th deaths in 2018 involved driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs
  • Excessive alcohol use remains the second leading cause of death on all holidays, including the Fourth of July
  • About 71% of all drunk driving crashes over the 4th of July holiday in 2018 involved at least one motorist with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15% or higher
  • Dense traffic during a short holiday period makes July 4th one of the deadliest holiday seasons to celebrate in the United States

Labor Day

The end of a long hot summer is often the time to celebrate as the cooler months of autumn approach. Unfortunately, highways are often very crowded in urban areas where unsafe driving could result in catastrophic crashes.

Shocking automobile accident statistics surrounding Labor Day include:

  • Approximately 300 people on average are killed every year in weekend crashes over the Labor Day holidays
  • In 2018, law enforcement reported 403 Labor Day weekend accident deaths, including all drunk driving crashes (36%)
  • About 260 teenagers die every year [6], on average, in automobile crashes by the end of the summer (through the end of Labor Day weekend), which is a 26% increase compared to other months throughout the year
  • Between 2011 and 2015, Labor Day weekend ranked second among the most deadly holiday weekends in America
  • In 2018, more than 800 lives were lost during the summer months through the Labor Day weekend due to drowsy driving

Labor Day travelers typically leave for their destination early on Friday and stay late into Monday night before heading back home. During that time, the rate of impaired driving due to excessive alcoholic beverage consumption at barbecues resulted in drunken guests leaving the Labor Day party by getting behind the wheel.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that fatal car crashes are three times more likely to occur between 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM on Labor Day night than at any other time over the holiday weekend.

The Thanksgiving Holiday

Thousands of people visit the emergency room every Thanksgiving day due to drunk driving. Safe driving statistics [7] reveal that over 800 people were killed in vehicle crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday between 2012 and 2016.

In 2017, 528 deaths involving vehicle accidents during the holiday period were reported, along with thousands who suffered severe life-altering injuries. National law enforcement offices reported 432 deaths associated with car accidents during the Thanksgiving holiday period in 2018. Other accident statistics involving Thanksgiving include:

  • Data reveals that the rate of men and women drinking to celebrate the holidays nearly doubles during the Thanksgiving season
  • Approximately 40% of all Thanksgiving weekend-related accident fatalities involve alcohol-impaired driving
  • org conducted a drinking survey revealing that one-third of all DUI offenders increase the amount they drink daily between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day
  • Surveys reveal that more people drink during the Thanksgiving holiday, including on Black Friday, because they are not working or attending school
  • Blackout Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) is considered the day of heaviest drinking nationwide work thousands of Americans enjoy the opportunity of binge drinking
  • Studies show that seasonal depression is a contributing factor in the heightened holiday drinking, or many people with mental health issues create DUI offenses

The Thanksgiving holiday is the busiest time for traveling by plane, train, and automobile. Most travelers leave the day before Thanksgiving and return the following Sunday, creating heavy congestion and dense traffic on the nation’s freeways.

Thanksgiving accident statistics reveal a direct correlation between the number of people on the road and the increased DUI rate.

Christmas Day

The Christmas holiday season is longer than any other holiday in the United States and has the highest accident fatality rate in America, leading to higher than regular spikes of DUI crashes, injuries, and deaths. Many people celebrate Christmas with alcohol consumption, leading to a significant increase in DUI auto crashes [8].

  • The National Security Council (NSC) estimates 259 deaths will be reported over the Christmas holiday in the United States in 2021
  • The NSC reports that approximately 37% of all auto accident fatalities during Christmas time will be alcohol-related
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that human behavior accounts for 94% of all traffic crashes in the United States during the Christmas holiday season
  • Between Christmas and New Year’s Day in 2019, law enforcement reported 799 fatalities nationwide

Many of the nation’s shopping centers and malls are overcrowded during the Christmas holidays, when people are busily buying presence and gifts for loved ones. Follow safety tips to avoid becoming a victim during the Christmas holidays while shopping or spending time with friends and relatives.

Holiday Car Accident Causes

Accident statistics involving the holiday season reveal the rate of traffic fatalities and injuries during winter and summer holidays when relatives, couples, and people are enjoying holiday celebrations. According to the NHTSA accident statistics, the leading causes of holiday accidents [9] in 2019 include:

  • Driving too fast for the road condition, over the posted speed limit, or racing – 16.9%
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medicine – 10.5%
  • Failing to maintain their lane – 7.3%
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way – 7.1%
  • Distracted driving, including talking, using the phone, eating, grooming, and texting – 5.7%
  • Driving carelessly – 5.7%
  • Failing to obey traffic controls, officers, or signs – 4.0%
  • Driving erratically, recklessly, or negligently – 3.8%
  • Overcorrecting or oversteering – 3.5%
  • Obscured vision due to glare, lights, snow, rain, trees, buildings, etc. – 3.0%
  • Driving tired, including drowsiness, falling asleep, fatigue, blacking out, or ill – 2.5%
  • Swerving or avoiding objects and cars due to slippery surfaces, wind, ice, rain, etc. – 2.1%
  • Making an improper turn – 1.0%
  • Other contributing factors – 11.9%
  • Causes not reported – 25.7%
  • Unknown causes – 22.4%

Throughout 2019, more than 37,000 road fatalities were reported, including over 10,000 deaths associated with illegal blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08% grams per deciliter or higher.

The Fatality Analysis Reporting System reveals that the average number of fatalities and severe injuries caused by automobile accidents during the holiday season was significantly higher than during non-holiday periods.

National Holiday Accident Injury FAQs

Every year, many relatives lose a loved one or suffer severe injuries in an automobile accident that was not their fault but caused by the negligent actions of others. The lives of the injured and surviving family members are often forever changed when involved in a horrific car crash.

Our attorneys answered the most frequently asked questions about national holiday injuries and accidents below.

Which Holiday Has the Most Accidents?

More automobile crashes occur in the United States during the Christmas holiday season, typically over 11.5 days of celebration. During the holidays, hundreds of traveling Americans will lose their lives on the nation’s roadways, and tens of thousands will be injured so severely they require immediate medical attention at the local emergency room

What Holiday Has More Drunk Driving Accidents?

Statistically, July 4th has the most deadly car accidents on average of all holidays for a single day. However, Memorial Day weekend typically has more fatal crashes over a 3.5-day weekend involving drunk driving.

The Christmas to New Year’s Day season usually lasts 11.5 days and has more alcohol-impaired driving fatalities nationwide than all other holidays. More drunk drivers are arrested in the early hours of New Year’s Day than at any other time of the year.

What is the #1 Cause of Accidents?

According to the NHTSA, driving faster than the posted speed limit is the number one cause of automobile accidents in the United States. Alcohol use is the second leading cause of car crashes, followed by failing to maintain a lane or yield the right-of-way.

What Day of the Year Do Most Accidents Occur?

More crashes occur on Thanksgiving Eve (the day before Thanksgiving) than at any other time during the year. More deaths are reported during the early and late hours on Saturday and any other day of the week.

The NHTSA reported over 6800 traffic deaths occurring on Saturdays in 2016, including during holidays.

What is the Most Dangerous Day of the Year to Drive?

More fatalities are reported on American roadways on July 4th than on any other one-day holiday. However, more deaths occur over the Memorial Day weekend over 3.5 days than any other holiday in the United States.

Accident statistics reveal more drunk driving accidents occur on July 4th than any other single day during the holiday season.

Is It Safer to Drive at Night?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), night driving is significantly more dangerous than driving during daylight hours. Statistics show that more deadly accidents involving alcohol-impaired driving occur during nighttime hours than daylight at a rate of four times higher.

Additionally, non-alcohol-impaired drivers are often more tired when driving at night when their defensive driving instincts are no longer on high alert. Any driver that combats fatigue by night driving should consider driving during daylight hours only.

Don’t Be a Statistic. Hire a Holiday Accident Injury Attorney Today to Handle Your Compensation Case

Were you the victim of a holiday accident, or did you lose a loved one through a wrongful death caused by another’s negligence? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, can ensure your family receives the financial compensation they deserve.

Our law firm understands that not all families have the financial means to hire an attorney to handle a personal injury or wrongful death case. Because of that, we accept all cases on contingency fee agreements, meaning that no upfront payment is required until we have successfully resolved your case through a negotiated settlement or jury trial award.

Contact our legal team now at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free case evaluation. Let us begin working on your case today.

Our law firm currently follows CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Covid-19 (coronavirus outbreak) social distancing guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety.

Resources: [1] Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, [2] NHTSA, [3] NHTSA, [4] NSC, [5] NSC, [6] NSC, [7], [8], [9]

Client Reviews

Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld.

- Michonne Proulx

Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own.

- Ethan Armstrong

Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan!

- Giulia

This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you.

- Daniel Kaim

Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial.

- Lisa
Free Consultation (888) 424-5757