The Insurance Bulletin
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Deadliest States and Counties for Drivers on Thanksgiving

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Mandy Sleight
Updated November 22, 2022
4 Min Read

The Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching, and AAA expects it to be a record year for car travel. AAA estimates almost 49 million people will travel by car to spend time with family and friends, an increase of 1.5% from 2021. With so many people hitting the road, how can you stay safe while traveling? 

The Insurance Bulletin analyzed publicly available data to determine the best and worst states for driving this season. Plus, we’ll provide tips on how to stay safe while traveling for Thanksgiving and how your car insurance rates could be affected.

States with the most traffic fatalities during Thanksgiving

Millions will be traveling from 6:00 PM Wednesday until 5:59 AM Monday morning to gather for the Thanksgiving holiday. Unfortunately, not everyone will make it back home after the long weekend is over. After analyzing the data for mortality rates per 100,000 residents, we found the top 14 states for Thanksgiving holiday fatalities are:

StateFatalities per 100,000
State
Mississippi
Fatalities per 100,000
4.23
State
Montana
Fatalities per 100,000
4.14
State
Wyoming
Fatalities per 100,000
3.46
State
Florida
Fatalities per 100,000
3.05
State
South Carolina
Fatalities per 100,000
2.87
State
Oklahoma
Fatalities per 100,000
2.62
State
Idaho
Fatalities per 100,000
2.54
State
Arizona
Fatalities per 100,000
2.48
State
Missouri
Fatalities per 100,000
2.44
State
Alabama
Fatalities per 100,000
2.37
State
Louisiana
Fatalities per 100,000
2.28
State
West Virginia
Fatalities per 100,000
2.23
State
Georgia
Fatalities per 100,000
2.20
State
North Carolina
Fatalities per 100,000
2.16

Hover over the map to see data per state

If you plan to travel in or to any of these states by car this Thanksgiving, stay extra vigilant and leave plenty of time to reach your destination.

Counties with the most traffic fatalities during Thanksgiving

Fatality data can vary widely by state and also by county. We analyzed the data in counties with more than 100,000 residents to see which counties have the highest incidence of Thanksgiving holiday fatalities. The top 10 counties for Thanksgiving fatalities across the U.S. are:

Co., StateFatalities per 100,000
Co., State
Flagler Co., Florida
Fatalities per 100,000
12.63
Co., State
Indian River Co., Florida
Fatalities per 100,000
11.01
Co., State
Pickens Co., South Carolina
Fatalities per 100,000
10.77
Co., State
Carroll Co., Georgia
Fatalities per 100,000
10.55
Co., State
Skagit Co., Washington
Fatalities per 100,000
9.96
Co., State
Franklin Co., Missouri
Fatalities per 100,000
9.8
Co., State
Yavapai Co., Arizona
Fatalities per 100,000
9.61
Co., State
Johnson Co., Texas
Fatalities per 100,000
9.52
Co., State
Charlotte Co., Florida
Fatalities per 100,000
9.43
Co., State
Cecil Co., Maryland
Fatalities per 100,000
8.81

Hover over the map to see data per county

States with the least traffic fatalities during Thanksgiving

Although Thanksgiving weekend is one of the most dangerous periods of the year to drive, there are some states where you are less likely to see high numbers of fatalities. However, don’t let that give you a false sense of security if you’re traveling in one of these 14 states:

StateFatalities per 100,000
State
Rhode Island
Fatalities per 100,000
0.36
State
Vermont
Fatalities per 100,000
0.47
State
Minnesota
Fatalities per 100,000
0.53
State
New York
Fatalities per 100,000
0.65
State
Alaska
Fatalities per 100,000
0.68
State
Massachusetts
Fatalities per 100,000
0.70
State
Nebraska
Fatalities per 100,000
0.82
State
Pennsylvania
Fatalities per 100,000
0.97
State
New Jersey
Fatalities per 100,000
0.99
State
North Dakota
Fatalities per 100,000
1.03
State
New Hampshire
Fatalities per 100,000
1.09
State
Nevada
Fatalities per 100,000
1.09
State
Ohio
Fatalities per 100,000
1.11
State
Washington
Fatalities per 100,000
1.22

Counties with the least traffic fatalities during Thanksgiving

In the bottom 10 counties with at least 100,000 residents, 3 fall in New York, and 2 in California, Texas, and Ohio. There is also 1 county in Massachusetts with a lower incidence of Thanksgiving holiday fatalities than other counties and states. Although New York county has one of the highest population densities in the country, it has the lowest instance of traffic fatalities on Thanksgiving.

Co., StateFatalities per 100,000
Co., State
New York Co., New York
Fatalities per 100,000
0.12
Co., State
Montgomery Co., Ohio
Fatalities per 100,000
0.19
Co., State
Westchester Co., New York
Fatalities per 100,000
0.21
Co., State
Cameron Co., Texas
Fatalities per 100,000
0.24
Co., State
San Francisco Co., California
Fatalities per 100,000
0.24
Co., State
San Mateo Co., California
Fatalities per 100,000
0.26
Co., State
Butler Co., Ohio
Fatalities per 100,000
0.27
Co., State
Fort Bend Co., Texas
Fatalities per 100,000
0.29
Co., State
Norfolk Co., Massachusetts
Fatalities per 100,000
0.29
Co., State
Rockland Co., New York
Fatalities per 100,000
0.31

Drivers most likely to be involved in a fatal crash

If you’re a male or under the age of 30, you’re more likely to be involved in a fatal crash this Thanksgiving weekend.

Drivers between the ages of 18 and 29 were involved in 37% more fatal crashes than drivers in older age groups. These drivers also tend to pay the highest car insurance premiums of other age groups, mostly due to inexperience behind the wheel, which also contributes to the higher likelihood of being involved in a crash. An at-fault accident can drive up insurance rates even more.

Compared to women, men are twice as likely to be the driver in a fatal crash. If you’re a man between the ages of 45 and 65, you have almost three times the chances to be a driver in a fatality. Men often find they pay higher auto insurance premiums for a woman the same age, and the higher risk of causing a crash is one of the biggest factors.

Safest places to travel by car in the U.S. this Thanksgiving holiday weekend

The Northeast of the U.S. is one of the safest to travel by car this Thanksgiving holiday weekend. When comparing the data per 100,000 residents, rural areas have higher death rates than other parts of the country. This is likely due to the length of time on the road to get to a destination compared to urban areas, which have more access to public transportation and are less reliant on cars overall.

Across the country, the Southern and Southwestern regions of the U.S. have a greater number of fatalities per 100,000 residents than other regions. The rates are even higher in rural areas in the northwest of the country, such as Montana and Wyoming.

Thanksgiving is considered one of the most dangerous days of the year

When comparing the data, Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous days of the year for traffic fatalities. 17 states have a less than 100% incidence of crash fatalities compared to the yearly average. (100% means you’re just as likely to be in a fatal car crash during the Thanksgiving holiday as any other day of the year. 200% means you’re twice as likely, 300% means 3 times as likely and so on.) Most of the states, as shown below, have an increase in fatalities on Thanksgiving relative to the rest of the year:

StateLikelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
State
Vermont
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
270%
State
Alaska
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
236%
State
Rhode Island
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
225%
State
Nebraska
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
212%
State
Minnesota
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
189%
State
North Dakota
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
183%
State
New Mexico
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
165%
State
Nevada
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
156%
State
Kentucky
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
151%
State
Arkansas
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
142%
State
Indiana
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
139%
State
Pennsylvania
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
139%
State
Ohio
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
137%
State
Colorado
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
134%
State
South Dakota
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
131%
State
Maine
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
127%
State
Michigan
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
124%
State
Tennessee
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
123%
State
New York
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
121%
State
Delaware
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
120%
State
Alabama
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
118%
State
Louisiana
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
113%
State
Wisconsin
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
108%
State
New Hampshire
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
108%
State
Virginia
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
107%
State
Kansas
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
104%
State
Georgia
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
104%
State
South Carolina
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
104%
State
Massachusetts
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
104%
State
New Jersey
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
103%
State
Oregon
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
102%
State
West Virginia
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
100%
State
Illinois
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
100%
State
North Carolina
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
98%
State
Oklahoma
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
98%
State
Missouri
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
96%
State
Texas
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
95%
State
Arizona
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
92%
State
Washington
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
92%
State
Wyoming
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
91%
State
Maryland
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
91%
State
Iowa
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
89%
State
Connecticut
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
88%
State
Utah
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
82%
State
California
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
81%
State
Mississippi
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
80%
State
Florida
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
80%
State
Hawaii
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
75%
State
Idaho
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
75%
State
Montana
Likelihood of Thanksgiving fatality relative to the rest of the year
57%

Does Thanksgiving holiday fatality data affect your car insurance rates?

Car insurance companies may ask for a general rate increase from the state if their costs of doing business have increased related to accidents, claims costs, and car thefts. Although one holiday weekend will probably not affect your car insurance rates, if you personally cause an accident, receive a ticket, or get convicted of a DUI, your premium may increase.

Tips for staying safe on the roads during Thanksgiving travel

No matter where you’re traveling this weekend, stay extra vigilant and follow our tips below for ways to stay safe this Thanksgiving holiday season.

  • Plan your route before you get behind the wheel.
  • Avoid the most congested highways.
  • Use rideshare if you plan to drink.
  • Make sure your vehicle is road ready (check tire pressure, get an oil change, etc.)
  • Travel during the off-hours and avoid times when more drivers are on the road.
  • Avoid driving distractions – don’t text and drive.
  • Know the signs of drunk driving (braking suddenly, weaving, tailgating, not maintaining consistent speeds).
  • Leave plenty of time to get to your destination.
  • Check the weather before you leave and make any necessary adjustments.
  • Review your car insurance policy to ensure you have the coverage in place to protect yourself in case of an accident, like collision coverage and roadside assistance.
  • Ensure all occupants are wearing their seatbelts.
  • Be aware and practice defensive driving.

Methodology

The Insurance Bulletin used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) on fatal accidents from 2016 to 2020 and U.S. Census data on a county and state level to examine where there were greater incidence of fatal car crashes based on population.

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