Deadliest cities to drive in over Memorial Day weekend

When is it most dangerous to travel?

Every year, millions of Americans mark Memorial Day weekend with a time-honored tradition: the road trip.

Unfortunately, every year an average of 413.3 people lose their lives on US roads over the Memorial Day weekend, making it one of the most dangerous weekends to drive, according to an analysis of Fatality Analysis Reporting System data from 2010 to 2019, the most recent data available.

There were 420 fatal accidents in 2019, which resulted in 467 Americans losing their lives. Both the number of fatal accidents and the number of driving-related fatalities over Memorial Day weekend in 2019 were the highest in ten years.

Number of fatal accidents and fatalities on Memorial Day weekend 2010–2019

YearFatal crashesPersons Killed in Fatal Crashes
2010 350 399
2011 371 408
2012 346 379
2013 344 385
2014 347 376
2015 384 428
2016 402 449
2017 363 403
2018 400 439
2019 420 467

Most dangerous cities to drive on Memorial Day

In 2019, San Bernardino, California sat atop the list of deadliest roads over Memorial Day weekend, with eight road fatalities.

California had three cities featured on the most dangerous list, closely followed by Florida with two cities recording multiple fatalities over the Memorial Day weekend in 2019.

Top 10 most dangerous cities to drive in during Memorial Day weekend, 2019

RankCityStateNumber of fatalities
1 San Bernardino California 8
2 Miami-Dade Florida 7
3 Harris Texas 6
3 Maricopa Arizona 6
5 Los Angeles California 5
5 Broward Florida 5
5 Cass Nebraska 5
5 Bernalillo New Mexico 5
5 Merced California 5
10 New Castle Delaware 4
10 Dupage Illinois 4
10 St. Louis Missouri 4
10 Marion Indiana 4
10 Fulton Ohio 4

Texas was the deadliest state to drive in during Memorial Day weekend in 2019 (46 fatalities), followed by Florida (44 fatalities), and California (40 fatalities).

Most dangerous states to drive on Memorial Day weekend, 2019

StateNumber of fatalities
Alabama 12
Alaska 0
Arizona 13
Arkansas 11
California 40
Colorado 3
Connecticut 4
Delaware 5
District of Columbia 0
Florida 44
Georgia 24
Hawaii 1
Idaho 3
Illinois 16
Indiana 9
Iowa 3
Kansas 1
Kentucky 14
Louisiana 9
Maine 1
Maryland 9
Massachusetts 2
Michigan 13
Minnesota 3
Mississippi 6
Missouri 8
Montana 4
Nebraska 10
Nevada 1
New Hampshire 1
New Jersey 8
New Mexico 10
New York 18
North Carolina 27
North Dakota 1
Ohio 12
Oklahoma 3
Oregon 3
Pennsylvania 6
Rhode Island 1
South Carolina 9
South Dakota 2
Tennessee 21
Texas 46
Utah 1
Vermont 1
Virginia 10
Washington 7
West Virginia 4
Wisconsin 7
Wyoming 0

At the other end of the spectrum, two states (Alaska and Wyoming), as well as the District of Columbia, recorded no fatalities on their roads over Memorial Day weekend in 2019.

Most and least dangerous states to drive on Memorial Day weekend, 2010-2019

RankStateNumber of fatalities
1 Texas 46
2 Florida 44
3 California 40
4 North Carolina 27
5 Georgia 24
RankStateNumber of fatalities
1 Alaska 0
1 District of Columbia 0
1 Wyoming 0
4 Hawaii 1
4 Kansas 1
4 Maine 1
4 Nevada 1
4 New Hampshire 1
4 North Dakota 1
4 Rhode Island 1
4 Utah 1
4 Vermont 1

Most dangerous states of the last 10 years

Texas once again tops the list for the most dangerous state to drive in over Memorial Day weekend, recording 445 road fatalities on Memorial Day weekends between 2010 and 2019. Trailing Texas is California (350) and Florida (327).

Most dangerous states to drive on Memorial Day weekend, 2010-2019

StateNumber of fatalities
Alabama 84
Alaska 11
Arizona 89
Arkansas 58
California 350
Colorado 60
Connecticut 35
Delaware 14
District of Columbia 4
Florida 327
Georgia 144
Hawaii 12
Idaho 26
Illinois 118
Indiana 88
Iowa 35
Kansas 39
Kentucky 90
Louisiana 104
Maine 12
Maryland 54
Massachusetts 53
Michigan 127
Minnesota 46
Mississippi 69
Missouri 88
Montana 19
Nebraska 31
Nevada 29
New Hampshire 15
New Jersey 76
New Mexico 45
New York 134
North Carolina 155
North Dakota 14
Ohio 132
Oklahoma 80
Oregon 45
Pennsylvania 141
Rhode Island 10
South Carolina 99
South Dakota 20
Tennessee 141
Texas 445
Utah 19
Vermont 12
Virginia 95
Washington 64
West Virginia 56
Wisconsin 107
Wyoming 12

While Texas averaged 44.5 fatalities a year, only Washington D.C. averaged under 1 fatality a year (0.4). 11 other states averaged under 2 fatalities over the past ten years (Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming).

Most and least dangerous states to drive on Memorial Day weekend, 2010-2019

RankStateNumber of fatalities
1 Texas 445
2 California 350
3 Florida 327
4 North Carolina 155
5 Georgia 144
6 Pennsylvania 141
6 Tennessee 141
8 New York 134
9 Ohio 132
10 Michigan 127
RankStateNumber of fatalities
1 District of Columbia 4
2 Rhode Island 10
3 Alaska 11
4 Hawaii 12
4 Maine 12
4 Vermont 12
4 Wyoming 12
8 Delaware 14
8 North Dakota 14
10 New Hampshire 15

Which is the most dangerous day to drive on Memorial Day weekend?

In 2019, there were 395 fatal accidents over the long weekend, with 140 happening on Saturday, 148 on Sunday and 107 on Monday.

After analyzing data from 2010 and 2019, it appears you put yourself at most risk by traveling on Saturday, which saw an average of 122.2 fatal accidents each year.

Number of fatal accidents by day for the Memorial Day weekend, 2010–2019

YearSaturdaySundayMonday
2010 107 109 85
2011 117 106 98
2012 119 89 93
2013 115 116 71
2014 122 109 69
2015 131 118 90
2016 123 132 103
2017 108 103 103
2018 140 119 99
2019 140 148 107

The percentage of fatal accidents caused by drunk drivers on Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights all decreased in 2019, compared to 2018. In fact, the percent of fatal accidents on both Sunday and Monday were at their lowest levels in at least the last 10 years, and Saturday saw its lowest percentage since 2017.

Percentage of fatal road accidents over Memorial Day weekend involving a drunk driver on Saturday, Sunday and Monday: 2010–2019

YearSaturdaySundayMonday
2010 42.06% 45.87% 30.59%
2011 42.74% 44.34% 35.71%
2012 42.02% 43.82% 38.71%
2013 36.52% 44.83% 32.39%
2014 36.89% 37.61% 36.23%
2015 40.46% 44.07% 31.11%
2016 37.40% 36.36% 37.86%
2017 34.26% 38.83% 37.86%
2018 40.00% 39.50% 31.31%
2019 35.43% 35.94% 29.59%

Does alcohol play a role in these accidents?

Unfortunately, alcohol played a role in an average of 142.7 fatal accidents over the last 10 years of Memorial Day weekends.

Number of fatal accidents on Memorial Day that involved a drunk driver 2010-2019

YearAccidents involving a drunk driverTotal fatal accidents
2010 141 350
2011 151 371
2012 147 346
2013 131 344
2014 130 347
2015 148 384
2016 147 402
2017 136 363
2018 154 400
2019 142 420

Over the last 10 years, drunk drivers caused 38.29% fatal accidents over Memorial Day weekend. That figure plummeted in 2019 to its lowest level in at least 10 years, with drunk drivers accounting for 33.81% of fatal accidents — which is almost 5% lower than the previous year, in 2018 (38.50%).

Percentage of road fatalities over Memorial Day weekend involving a drunk driver: 2010–2019

Year% of accidents involving a drunk driver
2010 40.29%
2011 40.70%
2012 42.49%
2013 38.08%
2014 37.46%
2015 38.54%
2016 36.57%
2017 37.47%
2018 38.50%
2019 33.81%

When is the most dangerous time of day to hit the road?

Analyzing data over the last 10 years reveals that traveling between 8 p.m. and 3:59 a.m. was the most deadly time to be on the road, with 182.4 fatalities occurring on average during this time.

Most dangerous time to be on the road over Memorial Day weekend: 2010–2019

Time of DayNumber of fatalities
Morning: 4 a.m.–11:59 a.m. 758
Afternoon/Evening: 12 noon–7:59 p.m. 1,515
Night: 8 p.m.–3:59 a.m. 1,824

In 2019, 76 people lost their lives while driving in the morning, 164 in the afternoon/evening and 220 at night. Those numbers are higher than the average of deaths on the road in the afternoon/evening and night over the last 10 years: 151.5 average fatalities driving in the afternoon/evening and 182.4 driving at night. However, fatalities while traveling in the morning were about on par with the 10-year average of 75.8 people.

Other dangerous behaviors

When you’re on the road this holiday weekend, look out for drivers on their phones. A recent finder.com study found that 44.9% of American adults surveyed admit to talking on the phone while behind the wheel, with another 16.3% admitting to texting while driving.

Other dangerous behaviors people report include speeding, driving while fatigued and fixing their appearance from behind the wheel.

Protecting yourself with car insurance

Car insurance isn’t going to stop you from being involved in an accident but it can help you deal with the financial consequences. Whether you’re travelling on two, four or more wheels, it pays to compare your auto insurance options. Make sure you review the policies and perks available before making a decision to ensure you’re getting the coverage that’s right for you.

Past Memorial Day studies

For media inquiries:

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Allan Givens
Public Relations Manager
203-818-2928
allan.givens@finder.com
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Nicole Gallina
Communications Coordinator
347-677-4931
nicole.gallina@finder.com
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