The Most Dangerous Roads During Christmas and New Year's Eve

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More than 100 million Americans are expected to drive 50+ miles this holiday season. Unfortunately, according to the National Safety Council, both Christmas and New Year's Eve are among the most dangerous times to drive during the year.

Using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, researchers at found a few worrying trends.

#1: Drunk driving is a major issue between Christmas and New Year's Eve

While Uber and Lyft have helped reduce alcohol-related traffic fatalities by 6.1%, drunk driving remains a major issue during both holidays.

33.57% of fatalities during Christmas and NYE are alcohol-related.

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#2: Fatalities have been increasing to levels not seen since 2005

While 2005 to 2009 saw a steady decline in fatalities followed by a relatively flat decade, 2021 was the worst year on record since 2005.

#3: Some of the most dangerous roads are outside of populated metro areas

While it’s not surprising that metro areas with large populations also have the most driving fatalities during the holidays, 3 of the top 10 most dangerous roads in the country are in counties with fewer than a million residents. 

From 2001 to 2021, the following roadways had the most fatalities during the Christmas and NYE holidays:

  1. I-15 in San Bernardino County, California: 31 (population 2.19M)
  2. I-10 in Riverside County, California: 18 (population 2.45M)
  3. I-10 in San Bernardino, California: 16 (population 2.19M)
  4. I-5 in San Diego County, California: 16 (population 3.27M)
  5. I-5 in Los Angeles County, Florida: 15 (population 9.81M)
  6. I-5 in Kern County, California: 14 (population 912k)
  7. I-5 in Fresno County, California: 14 (population 1.01M)
  8. US-19 in Pasco, Florida: 13 (population 585k)
  9. US-1 in Monroe, Florida: 12 (population 82k)
  10. US-59 in Harris, Texas: 12 (population 4.74M)

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#4: Arkansas, Alabama, and South Carolina have significantly more fatalities per capita than the rest of the country

While large states like California, Texas, and Florida have the most total driving fatalities during Christmas and NYE, these three southern states are in their own category regarding fatalities per capita.

Full Data


Fatal accident statistics were sourced from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and population data from the US Census Bureau. The Christmas to New Year’s Eve holiday period was defined as December 24th through January 1st. Unless otherwise noted, all fatality statistics are the sum of total fatalities from 2001 to 2021 (the most recent data available).

About the Author
Kyle Fretwell of
Kyle Fretwell has worked as a researcher and data journalist for over a decade. His work has appeared in publications such as Bloomberg, Fox Business, MSN, USA Today, CNBC, and the Houston Chronicle.

He now manages's content team and is a regular fixture at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville.

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