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[Study] Fatal Crashes on New Years Eve and New Years Day 2013-2018

December 12, 2019 |

New Year’s Eve is widely considered one of the heaviest drinking holidays in the United States.  While more and more Americans are choosing to ring in the New Year at home, millions of people still celebrate by going out to bars and clubs or attending holiday events.

At Cannon & Dunphy S.C., we are concerned about road safety, especially during the holidays.  We wanted to find out when and where the most fatal crashes occur during the New Year Holiday.  So, we worked with data visualization and consumer safety advocacy firm, Safer America, to analyze five years of NHTSA fatal crash data.

We isolated all deadly crashes that occurred on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day from 2013 (New Year’s Eve 2013 / New Years Day 2014) to 2018 (New Year’s Eve 2017 / New Years Day 2018).

During our study period, we found that over 1,000 people were killed in fatal collisions across the United States on New Year’s Eve or Day. In fact, there were:

  • 916 total fatal crashes
  • 1,004 fatalities
  • 341 fatal crashes involving drunk drivers
  • 377 people killed in drunk driving crashes

Which states had the most fatal crashes?  Raw totals don’t tell the whole story, so we calculated a crash rate based on the number of licensed drivers in each state.

In terms of total crashes, Texas (188), Florida (167) and California (154) had by far the highest number.  However, these three states are also the states with the highest population.  When looking at fatal crashes per 100,000 licensed drivers, the safest and most dangerous states were much different.

The five states with the highest crash rates (most dangerous states) were:

  1. Mississippi
  2. Oklahoma
  3. South Carolina
  4. Wyoming
  5. Texas

The five states with the lowest crash rates (safest states) were:

  1. North Dakota
  2. Delaware
  3. Rhode Island
  4. Minnesota
  5. Vermont

 

Five Years of Fatal Crashes On New Years Eve and New Years Day

*Crash rates are expressed per 100,000 licensed drivers in each state.

Rank State Fatal Crashes Fatalities Drunk Driver Crashes Drunk Driver Fatalities Crashes Per 100k Licensed Drivers
1 Mississippi 29 33 8 8 1.44
2 Oklahoma 33 35 12 14 1.32
3 South Carolina 47 50 18 19 1.25
4 Wyoming 5 6 1 1 1.19
5 Texas 188 210 62 66 1.18
6 Florida 167 178 37 39 1.14
7 Louisiana 36 43 21 25 1.06
8 West Virginia 12 12 4 4 1.04
9 New Mexico 15 15 4 4 0.99
10 Alabama 38 44 12 15 0.96
11 Kentucky 28 32 10 12 0.92
12 Tennessee 48 54 13 15 0.92
13 Arizona 42 43 11 11 0.83
14 Missouri 35 38 16 19 0.82
15 South Dakota 5 5 3 3 0.80
16 North Carolina 57 61 15 16 0.78
17 Maine 8 9 4 5 0.78
18 Georgia 54 63 18 22 0.77
19 Oregon 22 25 5 6 0.77
20 Hawaii 7 7 1 1 0.75
21 Alaska 4 4 2 2 0.75
22 Virginia 41 41 13 13 0.69
23 Kansas 13 13 4 4 0.64
24 Indiana 29 31 9 9 0.64
25 Michigan 45 53 17 20 0.64
26 Connecticut 16 17 3 4 0.61
27 California 154 167 35 38 0.59
28 Wisconsin 23 27 15 19 0.55
29 Iowa 12 12 7 7 0.53
30 Nevada 10 11 4 5 0.53
31 Illinois 45 50 18 21 0.53
32 Colorado 21 24 6 7 0.52
33 Utah 10 11 3 4 0.51
34 Montana 4 4 1 1 0.50
35 Washington 28 32 12 14 0.50
36 Pennsylvania 43 46 10 10 0.48
37 Ohio 37 41 18 22 0.46
38 Idaho 5 6 4 5 0.43
39 Nebraska 6 6 3 3 0.43
40 Maryland 18 20 7 8 0.42
41 New Jersey 26 26 7 7 0.42
42 New York 49 51 13 13 0.41
43 District Of Columbia 2 2 0 0 0.41
44 Massachusetts 19 26 6 10 0.38
45 Arkansas 9 9 3 3 0.38
46 New Hampshire 4 4 2 2 0.36
47 Vermont 2 2 2 2 0.36
48 Minnesota 12 15 2 2 0.36
49 Rhode Island 2 2 0 0 0.27
50 Delaware 2 2 1 1 0.26
51 North Dakota 1 1 1 1 0.18

 

Which Counties had the most fatal crashes?

At the county level, the top of the list is dominated by some of the largest counties in the United States.  Interestingly, every county in the top ten was found in either California, Texas or Florida.

  1. Los Angeles, CA – 33 fatal crashes, 35 fatalities
  2. Harris County, TX – 26 fatal crashes, 30 fatalities
  3. Dallas County, TX – 20 fatal crashes
  4. Maricopa County, AZ – 18 fatal crashes, 18 fatalities
  5. San Diego County, CA – 17 fatal crashes, 18 fatalities
  6. San Bernardino County, CA – 14 fatal crashes, 20 fatalities
  7. Orange County, FL – 13 fatal crashes, 14 fatalities
  8. Miami-Dade County, FL – 13 fatal crashes, 13 fatalities
  9. Duval County, FL – 12 fatal crashes, 13 fatalities
  10. Broward County, FL – 12 fatal crashes, 12 fatalities

 

What Time of Day is the Most Dangerous on New Year’?

Without a doubt, the hours between 1 am and 3 am are the most dangerous during the New Year’s holiday.  These hours were numbers 1 and 2 for total fatal crash and fatal crashes involving a drunk driver.  Interestingly, fatal crashes drop significantly during the midnight to 1 am, as people everywhere likely stay where they are to count down.

Most Dangerous Time of Day on New Year's Eve and Day

Key Takeaways

It is clear that there is a significant fatal crash risk associated with the New Year’s holiday.  So what can motorists and party-goers do to protect themselves?

  • Most importantly, don’t drink and drive.  If you are planning on consuming alcohol at a New Year’s celebration, designate a driver or get a sober ride home.
  • Don’t drive between the hours of 1 and 3 am unless you absolutely have to. This is the peak time for fatal accidents and fatal alcohol-related accidents on New Year’s.
  • Drive defensively whenever possible.  Expect the unexpected and be ready to adjust accordingly.
  • Inspect your vehicle.  Before you get on the road, make sure that your tires are properly inflated (and have sufficient tread), fluids are not low and your car’s brakes are functioning properly.
  • Don’t drive distracted.  Put the phone down, don’t get too involved in talking to passengers and keep your eyes on the road and arrive alive at your destination.
  • Avoid speeding.  Excessive speeding is a major factor in fatal crashes no matter what time of year it is.

We encourage everyone to celebrate and enjoy themselves ringing in the new year.  We hope that seeing the numbers and understanding the risk helps people make the decision to celebrate safely.

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