From 2010 to 2020, traffic deaths on Labor Day weekend increased by 30 percent.
Imagine Labor Day, and you can probably smell the hot dogs on the grill, feel the salty cold of the ocean, and hear the sounds of your friends talking and laughing. But there’s one thing about Labor Day that’s not so enjoyable, and that’s the number of car crashes that occur on this end-of-summer holiday. Tied with the Fourth of July, Labor Day weekend is the deadliest holiday for driving due to increased alcohol intake and car travel, a dangerous combination.
The good news? While the final numbers aren’t available yet, experts have predicted decreases in 2022’s Labor Day accident statistics to match the overall 2 percent decrease in traffic fatalities.
The National Safety Council (NSC), which tracks traffic fatalities throughout the year, estimates that there were 456 traffic deaths during Labor Day weekend in 2022, a 2 percent decrease from 2021. However, from 2010 to 2020, the number of traffic fatalities across Labor Day weekend increased by 30 percent. While rates were pretty flat from 2010 to 2017, they began to rise sharply from 2018 onward.
|Year||Number of traffic fatalities on Labor Day weekend|
Throughout the year, over a third of traffic fatalities involve alcohol-impaired driving, commonly known as drunk driving. However, such incidents increase significantly during Labor Day weekend, and in 2020, nearly 40 percent of all traffic fatalities over Labor Day weekend involved drunk driving.
|Year||Labor Day weekend traffic fatalities involving alcohol-impaired driving||Annual average traffic fatalities involving alcohol-impaired driving||Difference: Labor Day vs. annual average|
In 2022, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a $13 million campaign to combat drunk driving and reduce the country’s fatal crash rate.1 Aside from being dangerous, driving drunk and getting a DUI make car insurance more expensive, so the next time you throw back a few cold ones, get a designated driver or an Uber instead of getting behind the wheel.
Seat belt statistics tell us that wearing one can reduce fatality risk among front-seat passengers by 45 percent. Applying this to the 2022 NSC estimates, this means that in 2022, more than 180 front-seat passengers could have lived if they had only worn their seatbelts.
Given the fact that there are 114 injuries for every traffic death, the NSC estimates that there were about 52,000 car-related injuries across Labor Day weekend in 2022.
Labor Day weekend is tied with Independence Day for the deadliest holiday in terms of traffic fatalities, with an average of 122 deaths per day during each holiday. In 2020, Labor Day weekend was the deadliest holiday in the past 10 years, with 156 deaths.
|Year||Independence Day, average number of traffic deaths||Labor Day weekend, average number of traffic deaths||Memorial Day, average number of traffic deaths||Thanksgiving Day, average number of traffic deaths||New Year’s Day, average number of traffic deaths||Christmas Day, average number of traffic deaths|
|Average number of traffic deaths, 2010-2020||122||122||118||98||96||89|
Increased car travel and alcohol consumption over Labor Day weekend make for more traffic fatalities.
Believe it or not, car travel is the deadliest form of transportation, 10 times deadlier than buses, 17 times deadlier than railroad passenger trains, and 510 times deadlier than scheduled airlines, according to data from the NSC.2
|Passenger death rates by year, per 100,000,000 passenger miles||Passenger vehicles||Buses||Railroad passenger trains||Scheduled airlines|
Many people travel by car on Labor Day weekend, which, when combined with increased drinking, makes for higher traffic fatalities.
According to a survey from the American Addiction Centers, on average, people consume 3.2 drinks on Labor Day. The poll also indicates 17 percent of men binge drink on Labor Day, compared to 10 percent of women.3
Unlike most holidays, which last only a day, Labor Day comprises an entire three-and-a-quarter-day weekend, allowing for more driving and thus more fatalities.
Whether you cause a crash or someone hits your car, here’s what to do if you get in an accident on Labor Day weekend — or any other time.
Learn more about deadly car crashes on the holidays based on our in-depth car insurance research. While Labor Day weekend may be one of the deadliest holidays for traffic fatalities, it’s followed by Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day, so it’s important to practice safe driving year-round.
To evaluate the number of accidents on Labor Day weekend and the number of fatalities in particular, we analyzed National Safety Council data from 2010 to 2020, the latest year for which fatal car crash data is available about the Labor Day holiday weekend. We also used safety recommendations from the American Red Cross for context and data from the American Addiction Centers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to supplement this research.
NHTSA Launches Labor Day ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ Campaign. U.S. Department of Transportation. (2022, Aug 17).
Deaths by Transportation Mode. National Safety Council (NSC). (2022).
Booziest Holidays. American Addiction Centers. (2022, Jun 30).
Labor Day Weekend Coming; How to Stay Safe. American Red Cross. (2022, Aug 31).