The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says Thanksgiving may be the most dangerous time to drive on a holiday. From 2017 to 2021, the most recent five years of data available, 2,456 people were killed in car accidents around Thanksgiving. This includes crashes that happened from 6 p.m. on the Wednesday before the holiday until 6 a.m. on the Monday after. This is more than the amount of deaths around Labor Day (2,351), the Fourth of July (2,345), Memorial Day (2,191), and Christmas (1,680).
In those five years, more than 32,000 people died in car accidents in November and December alone. That’s about 1.2 deaths per 100 million miles driven.
A U.S. News study of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that many Northern states may be the safest for holiday drivers, even though winter weather is a worry. This is because they have a lower rate of fatal crashes.
In November and December, 0.61 crash fatalities per 100 million miles driven in Massachusetts were the lowest of any state. This was followed by 0.66 crash fatalities per 100 million miles driven in Minnesota and 0.73 crash fatalities per 100 million miles driven in Utah. Rhode Island, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Connecticut were also in the top 10 safest states based on this list.
Several Southeast states are also some of the most dangerous places to drive during the holidays. Between 2017 and 2021, more than 1.9 crash deaths per 100 million miles driven in November and December happened in South Carolina. This made it the most dangerous state to drive in. By this measure, Mississippi, Louisiana, Montana, and Florida make up the last five most dangerous states.
In these last two months of the year, guys were much more likely than women to die in car accidents. About 22,500 of the people who died in the crash were men, which is about 70% of all the deaths. Between the ages of 18 and 30, the most deaths were among men. After age 50, the number of deaths also rose among men.
More than one in four deaths in the last two months of the year were caused by speeding, and almost eight percent were caused by a driver who was not paying attention. About one-third of the deaths happened when bad weather like snow, rain, or fog was present, at least in the cases where the weather conditions were recorded.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, drunk drivers are also a big risk. In some groups, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is called “Drinksgiving” or “Blackout Wednesday.” Between 2017 and 2021, over 830 people died in accidents with drunk drivers on Thanksgiving weekends. Drunk drivers were to blame for 137 of those deaths.
One of the 89 factors that determine the Healthiest Communities rankings is the number of deaths in car accidents per 100,000 people. These rankings look at how well nearly 3,000 U.S. counties and county equivalents do across the country.
A study by U.S. News of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that these 10 states are the most dangerous for driving over the holidays:
- South Carolina
- New Mexico