Deadliest cities to drive in during Thanksgiving weekend

The top two US cities with the most fatalities behind the wheel over the extended holiday are in the same state.

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Driving around with a cooked turkey on top of the car

While Thanksgiving weekend is a time to be with family and stuff our faces, it’s also the most dangerous weekend of the year to get behind the wheel. According to finder.com, Thanksgiving weekend sees an average of 350 deaths each year, behind Fourth of July weekend with an average of 318 deaths.

Finder.com analyzed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data collected for Thanksgiving Day, and the weekend following in 2018, to find which cities and states are the most dangerous for driving over the holiday weekend. We also analyzed data over a span of 10 years to determine if driving deaths are going up, and which Thanksgiving weekend day is the deadliest to be on the road.

Which cities were deadliest for driving on Thanksgiving Day weekend?

Los Angeles, California takes the lead with double the number of deaths as cities taking second place. Bakersfield, California and Dallas and Houston, Texas all tie for the second most dangerous city to drive in over the long Thanksgiving weekend, each with five fatalities. They are closely followed by 10 other cities, each with three or four deaths.

RankCityStateNumber of deaths
1Los AngelesCalifornia10
2BakersfieldCalifornia5
2DallasTexas5
2HoustonTexas5
3San BernadinoCalifornia4
3Santa ClaraCalifornia4
3BrookhavenGeorgia4
3ChicagoIllinois4
4DenverColorado3
4St. PetersburgFlorida3
4St. LucieFlorida3
4YellowstoneMontana3
4SpartansburgSouth Carolina3
4SeattleWashington3

Which states were deadliest for Thanksgiving Day weekend?

Claiming the top deadliest city to drive in during the Thanksgiving weekend, California also takes most dangerous state at 42 deaths, followed by Texas at 35 deaths.

RankStateNumber of deaths
1California42
2Texas35
3Florida22
4North Carolina17
5Ohio15

Which city had the most drunk-driving deaths?

Overindulgence isn’t exclusive to food on Thanksgiving. A consequence of indulgence is the 31% of all Thanksgiving road fatalities attributable to drunk drivers. Of all of the drunk driving fatalities in 2018, Bakersfield, California, and Houston, Texas took No. 1 with three deaths due to drunk driving.

RankCityStateNumber of drunk-driving deaths
1BakersfieldCalifornia3
1HoustonTexas3
2Los AngelesCalifornia2
2San BernadinoCalifornia2
2Grand RapidsMichigan2
2San AntonioTexas2
2El PasoTexas2
2Round RockTexas2
2TuscaloosaAlabama2

Which state had the most drunk-driving deaths?

When it comes to drunk drivers, Texas tops the list at 16 alcohol-related road fatalities in 2018. California follows closely with 15 alcohol related deaths over the holiday weekend. These two states alone made up 29% of drunk driving deaths for Thanksgiving weekend in 2018.

All other states rounding out the top eight are southern states, with six or four drunk driving deaths. With one exception, northern state Michigan makes the list with four deaths.

RankStateNumber of drunk-driving deaths
1Texas16
2California15
3North Carolina6
3Florida6
4Alabama4
4Georgia4
4Michigan4
4Tennessee4

How does Thanksgiving driving compare to a typical weekday?

Turkey Day leads all other holidays not only in terms of fatal accidents, but also in terms of distractions. According to a TrueMotion study on driving while distracted, texting and app use skyrockets a staggering 50% on Thanksgiving when compared with your typical weekday.

TrueMotion found that speeding also increases by an average 45% during the holiday, compared to a normal weekday.

What time of day was deadliest for driving on Thanksgiving weekend?

If you’re driving over Thanksgiving weekend, you might want to do so earlier in the day. Only 19% of fatal accidents occur between the hours of 5 a.m. and noon. Compare that time to driving at night (between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.) and afternoon to evening (between noon and 8 p.m.), which accounts for 41% of road deaths each year.

Time of dayDeaths% of total deaths
Morning6619%
Afternoon/evening14441%
Night13439%

How many of these deaths were alcohol-related?

It may not surprise you that 48% of deaths occurring at night are related to drunk-driving. Drunk-driving deaths are four times more likely to occur between the hours of 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. than in the morning.

Time of dayDrunk-driving deaths% of total deaths
Morning1624%
Afternoon/Evening2719%
Night6448%

Thanksgiving driving fatalities over 10 years

Road fatalities for this holiday weekend over the past 10 years have mostly increased, albeit slightly. And the past five years hold the top five ranks for the most road fatalities on Thanksgiving day. However, 2013 is a welcomed outlier with the least driving fatalities for both Thanksgiving day and Thanksgiving weekend over the years.

RankYearTotal Thanksgiving weekend road deaths
12017435
22016402
32014380
42015363
52010353
62018346
72012343
82009324
92011312
102013247
RankYearTotal Thanksgiving day road deaths
12017109
22016108
32015101
4201896
5201488
6201284
7201179
8200978
9201078
10201368

Which Thanksgiving weekend day is the deadliest?

Over the span of 10 years, Saturday proves to be the most deadly day to be on the road over the holiday weekend with 1,979 road fatalities. That’s more than double the second most dangerous day to be on the road, which is Friday with 885 road fatalities.

RankDayTotal holiday weekend road death over 10 years
1Saturday1,979
2Friday885
3Sunday830
4Thursday811

Don’t be a turkey. Compare your car insurance options.

While car insurance can’t stop you from getting into an accident over Thanksgiving weekend, it can protect you from the financial consequences. Make sure you’ve got the right level of coverage by reviewing your coverage option and compare car insurance companies to find the best deal on rates.

For media inquiries:

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Allan Givens
Public Relations Manager
203-818-2928
allan.givens@finder.com
/in/nicole-gallina/

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Nicole Gallina
Communications Coordinator
347-677-4931
nicole.gallina@finder.com
/in/nicole-gallina/

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