Holiday Season Car Accident Statistics

Posted on by datateam

Alcohol consumption around the U.S. spikes over the holidays. Unfortunately, so does the number of drunk driving accidents. Driving under the influence, or DUI, is a serious problem that takes thousands of lives each year. Drunk driving is especially common around Thanksgiving, due in large part to ‘Thanksgiving Eve’ – the biggest night of the year for bars. The more you know about the dangers of drinking and driving, the more you may be able to protect yourself and your loved ones this holiday season.

Latest Thanksgiving Crash Statistics

Drunk driving sends thousands of people to the hospital each Thanksgiving Day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 800 people died in car crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period from 2012 to 2016. Thousands of others suffered serious and life-changing injuries. In 2017, 528 people died in a car accident during Thanksgiving. In 2018, this decreased to 432 deaths.

Why is Thanksgiving is the Holiday with the Most Car Accident Deaths?

  • More people imbibing: The rate of drinking for both men and women to celebrate Thanksgiving is more than double the typical amount. In a binge drinking survey by, 33% of DUI offenders increased their drinking between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
  • Fewer responsibilities: Most people have Thanksgiving Day (and often Black Friday as well) off from school and work, making it more likely that they will drink over this holiday.
  • Blackout Wednesday: Thanksgiving Eve, also called Blackout Wednesday, is a nationwide phenomenon that makes this holiday one of the booziest. Thousands of Americans take the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as an opportunity to binge drink.
  • Increased travel: Many people travel out of town for Thanksgiving. They often leave the Wednesday before or the day of and return the following Sunday. Higher rates of travel lead to increased DUI accident statistics.
  • Seasonal depression: Holiday drinking can coincide with seasonal depression. Winter holidays see an increase in DUI offenses for mental-health related reasons. Spending a holiday such as Thanksgiving alone could lead to depression, drinking and poor choices.

Accident Statistics During Other Holidays

In 2018, drunk driving took the lives of 432 people on the days surrounding Thanksgiving, 1,087 from Christmas to New Year’s, 441 people on Labor Day and 194 people on the Fourth of July. These numbers are all significantly higher than the rate of DUI accidents on nonholidays in the U.S. The forecast for this Thanksgiving is just as grim as previous years’ DUI statistics.

2019 Forecast for Thanksgiving

The NHTSA uses fatal car accident statistics from previous years around the Thanksgiving holiday to predict the upcoming holiday season. For 2019, the NHTSA has forecasted a death toll of 454 people for the 4.5 days between November 27th at 6:00 p.m. to December 2nd at 6:00 a.m. If this prediction is accurate, this will be more deaths than in 2018, but fewer than in 2017. Regardless of the precise accuracy of 2019’s prediction, everyone who is planning on driving this holiday season should be aware of these statistics and do everything they can to stay safe.

Safety Tips

You can prevent drunk driving accidents by arranging a sober ride home if you plan on drinking alcohol this Thanksgiving. It is not safe to drink after consuming any amount of alcohol. Just one drink could be enough to impair your driving abilities and lead to poor decisions, such as speeding or red-light running. Plan ahead before you go out if you wish to drink.

Plan on hailing a ride on Uber or Lyft, calling a cab at the end of the night, or sleeping over where you will be drinking. Otherwise, ask a sober friend if he or she can give you a ride. Get a ride to your destination, not just from, to help prevent getting behind the wheel drunk on your way home. Give your car keys to someone who can prevent you from drunk driving if you do not trust yourself. Keep yourself and others safe this Thanksgiving by saying no to drunk driving.

Hurt? Contact Liljegren Law Group

If you or a loved one was injured because of a drunk driver, Scott Liljegren at Liljegren Law Group can help. Contact our local car accident attorney today for a free case evaluation (619) 460-0109.