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Deadliest cities for driving on Cinco de Mayo

Fiesta day takes a deadly turn from drunk driving — with over 40% of fatalities reported in five cities.

Colorful Piñata on the floor and candies

The fun of celebrating Mexican culture can lead to deadly car accidents if Cinco de Mayo celebrators aren’t careful. Drunk driving is the major factor, especially in some of the deadliest cities like Phoenix, Houston or Chicago, as our research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows. What’s more: drunk drivers accounted for nearly half of all deadly crashes in 2018.

Driving fatalities for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo has seen a little over 1,400 deadly car accidents from 2004 to 2018, according to the NHTSA Fatality and Injury Reporting System. That averages to 101 crashes for this day each year.

But it turns out the holiday’s crash totals look similar to other days throughout the year. The average day of the week sees 99 fatal car accidents. In addition, crash numbers on Cinco de Mayo stay in line with other holidays’ fatal accidents per day, including Christmas, Labor Day and Thanksgiving weekend.

However, years when Cinco de Mayo falls on a Friday or Saturday see the highest rates of fatal crashes. In 2006 and 2012, when Cinco de Mayo fell on a Saturday, the holiday saw much higher fatality rates than when the holiday fell on a weekday. For the upcoming Cinco de Mayo in 2020 — which falls on a Tuesday — drivers have less to worry about.

Fatal crashes and people killed on Cinco de Mayo — 2004 to 2018

YearTotal number of fatal crashes
2018119
2017108
201698
201580
201462
201398
2012122
201171
201084
200957
200882
2007129
2006118
200592
200499
Total1,419

Most dangerous cities for driving on Cinco de Mayo

Los Angeles, Phoenix, Houston and Chicago share the brunt of fatalities with a combined 70 fatal crashes each Cinco de Mayo. All other major cities see single-digit numbers on this famous Mexican holiday.

However, over 40% of fatal accidents in five of the deadliest cities are a result of drunk driving. Those include Phoenix, Houston, Chicago, Kansas City and Detroit.

Causes of fatal car accidents on Cinco de Mayo in top cities

StateNumber of fatal car crashes
Los Angeles26
Phoenix20
Houston13
Chicago11
Las Vegas9
Jacksonville8
Detroit7
Kansas City7
Birmingham6

Most dangerous states to drive in on Cinco de Mayo

If you’re playing it safe, you should steer clear of driving in California, Texas or Florida on Cinco de Mayo. Drunk driving also plays a large role in the car accident deaths seen in these states every year.

In Texas, drunk driving on this day has accounted for 60 fatalities, or 45% of deadly accidents, over the years 2004 to 2018. It’s also caused 36 fatalities in California and 32 in Florida. However, speeding has been the top contributor in California, with 39 deadly crashes on Cinco de Mayo.

Top states for fatal car crashes on Cinco de Mayo

StateFatal car crashes — 2004 to 2018
California134
Texas134
Florida114
Georgia63
North Carolina63
Pennsylvania56
South Carolina55
Arizona46
Ohio46
Illinois45

Least dangerous states for driving on Cinco de Mayo

The reigning factor you’ll notice about the least dangerous states is they’re all less populated. And a small population means fewer drivers on the road, including for Cinco de Mayo.

The low risk states also tend to be farther removed, so residents in these states may not have the Mexican influence that drives the fiestas, mariachi music and Battle of Puebla reenactments.

10 least dangerous states for deadly accidents on Cinco de Mayo

StateFatal car crashes — 2004 to 2018
South Dakota2
Alaska2
Vermont2
New Hampshire3
Rhode Island3
Nebraska4
Hawaii4
North Dakota5
Wyoming5
Delaware6

Drunk driving on Cinco de Mayo

Fatal car crashes on Cinco de Mayo are in large part due to drunk driving and where you live. From 2004 to 2018, the holidays drunk driving accounted for nearly 470 or 33% of deadly accidents. But be aware the numbers have spiked recently — 54 crashes were caused by drunk drivers in 2018, making up 45% of fatal accidents on this day.

Speeding a top cause of fatalities on Cinco de Mayo

Next to drunk driving, speeding shows up as another huge factor with 401 deadly accidents between 2004 and 2018. That number makes up a huge portion of the 1,400 accidents this holiday has seen.

Whether caused by fiesta-goers or those scampering about their normal routines, drivers should slow down on the road during this day. The driving penalties and extra fines may not be worth getting the best spot at the party.

Worst time to drive on Cinco de Mayo

Both celebrators and drivers should watch out when Cinco de Mayo falls on a weekend. Saturday has proven the worst of any days of the week, rising to over 120 fatalities. Friday falls just behind, with an average 113 fatal crashes.

Day of weekAverage fatal crashes for each day
Sunday98
Monday72
Tuesday69
Wednesday92
Thursday87
Friday113
Saturday123

In addition, you might avoid late-night driving if possible during Cinco de Mayo. Between 9 p.m. and midnight were the highest number of deadly crashes — 272, a stark contrast to the 137 crashes between 9 a.m. and noon. Also, drive more carefully anytime from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., which has seen around 440 deadly accidents in total.

Protect yourself on Cinco de Mayo with car insurance

Drunk driving and speeding can put a damper on May 5th celebrations, or worse if they lead to a deadly car accident. And it looks like the worst of the numbers happen during celebration hours between 9 p.m. and midnight.

If you plan to margarita the night away, make sure you take the necessary precautions, like designating a sober driver and keeping enough car insurance coverage just in case.

How did we find these stats?

To dig up this data, we looked at information about fatal car accidents on May 5th using the NHTSA Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool. We contrasted the total numbers from 2004 to 2018 with totals from the year 2018 alone.

The tool allows us to choose a variety of factors to create a specialized report. First, we looked at the total fatal car crashes for any day between 2004 to 2018 compared to crashes for May 5th. Next, we compared these totals across different states and counties and dug into the cause of accidents in these areas, including drunk driving and speeding. We chose counties that included the largest city from each state.

Then, we compared the worst time of day for driving, looking up information in three-hour spans. We also looked at total numbers when Cinco de Mayo fell on different days of the week. Finally, we compared types of violations like speeding, drunk driving, distracted or drowsy driving.

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