The Most Dangerous Roads During Thanksgiving

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More than 49 million Americans will hit the road this Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, according to the National Safety Council, it’s one of the most dangerous driving holidays in the United States.

Using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, researchers at discovered a few worrying trends for Thanksgiving travelers.

#1: Drunk driving is a major issue during Thanksgiving

Despite Uber and Lyft helping to reduce alcohol-related traffic fatalities by 6.1%, drunk driving remains an issue on Thanksgiving – likely because most rideshare drivers are spending time with their families over the holidays.

~34% of fatalities during Thanksgiving are alcohol-related.

#2: Progress has stalled since 2008 as fatalities have remained flat

While 2005 to 2009 saw a steady decline in fatalities, there hasn’t been any consistent progress since. Fatalities are actually up nearly 20% when comparing 2020 and 2021 to the two previous years.

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

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

From 2001 to 2021, the following roadways had the most fatalities during the Thanksgiving holidays:

  1. I-15 in San Bernadino County, California: 16 (population 2.19M)
  2. I-5 in Los Angeles County, California: 11 (population 9.81M)
  3. US-1 in Monroe County, Florida: 10 (population 82k)
  4. I-8 in Imperial County, California: 10 (population 179k)
  5. SR-85 in Okaloosa County, Florida: 10 (population 213k)
  6. I-15 in Riverside County, California: 10 (population 2.45M)
  7. I-10 in Maricopa County, Arizona: 10 (population 4.49M)
  8. I-605 in Los Angeles County, California: 10 (population 9.83M)
  9. I-10 in Ascension Parish, Louisiana: 9 (population 128k)
  10. SR-91 in Indian River County, Florida: 9 (population 163k)

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#4: Louisiana has the most fatalities per capita by a wide margin

While large states like California, Texas, and Florida have the most total driving fatalities during Thanksgiving, Louisiana has the most fatalities per capita – and by a wide margin.

Full Data


Fatal accident statistics were sourced from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and population data was sourced from the US Census Bureau. The Thanksgiving holiday period was defined as the Wednesday before Thanksgiving through the Sunday afterward. Unless otherwise noted, all fatality statistics are the sum of total fatalities from 2001 to 2021 (the most recent data available) and population data is from 2021.

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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