AutoInsurance.com
Published: August 30, 2021Last updated: January 20, 2023

Labor Day Accident Statistics

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.

Labor Day Accident Statistics: 2010 to 2020

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
2010 390
2011 373
2012 378
2013 371
2014 362
2015 397
2016 384
2017 345
2018 433
2019 438
2020 506

Alcohol-Impaired Driving

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
2010 35% 31% 13%
2011 37% 30% 23%
2012 38% 31% 23%
2013 39% 31% 26%
2014 42% 30% 40%
2015 34% 29% 17%
2016 37% 28% 32%
2017 37% 29% 28%
2018 36% 29% 24%
2019 39% 28% 39%
2020 38% 30% 27%

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 Belts

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.

Injuries

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.

How Labor Day Compares to Other Holidays

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
2010 112 120 120 98 88 77
2011 125 115 120 88 94 79
2012 126 116 113 95 107 83
2013 108 114 103 85 81 70
2014 107 111 104 95 101 84
2015 113 122 114 92 83 86
2016 122 118 121 103 86 98
2017 124 106 106 109 101 92
2018 140 133 132 102 100 100
2019 117 135 139 97 101 109
2020 147 156 122 117 110 96
Average number of traffic deaths, 2010-2020 122 122 118 98 96 89

Why Are There So Many Traffic Fatalities on Labor Day?

Increased car travel and alcohol consumption over Labor Day weekend make for more traffic fatalities.

Car Travel

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
2007 0.66 0.03 0.03 0.00
2008 0.59 0.08 0.12 0.00
2009 0.53 0.04 0.02 0.01
2010 0.50 0.05 0.02 0.00
2011 0.48 0.06 0.03 0.00
2012 0.49 0.04 0.02 0.00
2013 0.47 0.06 0.03 0.001
2014 0.46 0.04 0.02 0.00
2015 0.49 0.04 0.07 <0.001
2016 0.50 0.07 0.01 0.001
2017 0.49 0.04 0.04 0.00
2018 0.47 0.05 0.03 <0.001
2019 0.46 0.04 0.01 <0.001
2020 0.56 0.02 0.03 0.002
Average 0.51 0.05 0.03 0.001

Many people travel by car on Labor Day weekend, which, when combined with increased drinking, makes for higher traffic fatalities.

Alcohol Consumption

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

Long Weekend

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.

How to Stay Safe While Driving This Labor Day

  1. Don’t drive drowsy. Drowsy driving is a form of impaired driving. Get a good night’s sleep before you drive on Labor Day weekend.
  2. Don’t drive distracted. Driving distracted, like texting while driving, makes traffic fatalities and injuries more likely.
  3. Don’t drive drunk. And remember, buzzed driving is drunk driving.
  4. Observe driving laws. From following speed limits to slowing down in construction zones, adhere to the laws. After all, they’re still relevant, even on this national holiday.4

What to Do If You Get Into an Accident

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.

  1. Pull over. Get to a safe place where you’re out of harm’s way.
  2. Make sure everyone is OK. Check for any injuries among your passengers and any others involved in the accident.
  3. Call for help. If anyone is injured, call 911. You can also call the police to take an accident report at the scene, but if no one is injured, they may be too busy to come by. If that’s the case, see step 6.
  4. Document your car’s damage. Take pictures of each vehicle’s damage for your insurance claim.
  5. Exchange information. Give the other driver your name, address, phone number, insurance information, and more. Write down relevant information, like the time of day, weather, car makes, models, years, etc.
  6. File an accident report. If the police can’t come to the scene, go to the nearest police department to file an accident report. Filing a police report for your claim bolsters your evidence.
  7. Submit a claim. Finally, submit your insurance claim, and your insurance adjuster will determine fault and payouts.

Recap

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.

Methodology

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.

Citations

  1. NHTSA Launches Labor Day ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ Campaign. U.S. Department of Transportation. (2022, Aug 17).
    https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/nhtsa-launches-labor-day-drive-sober-or-get-pulled-over-campaign

  2. Deaths by Transportation Mode. National Safety Council (NSC). (2022).
    https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/home-and-community/safety-topics/deaths-by-transportation-mode/

  3. Booziest Holidays. American Addiction Centers. (2022, Jun 30).
    https://alcohol.org/guides/booziest-holidays/

  4. Labor Day Weekend Coming; How to Stay Safe. American Red Cross. (2022, Aug 31).
    https://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/2022/labor-day-weekend-coming-how-to-stay-safe.html