The summer and early fall are the most dangerous times of year on the nation’s roads, according to an updated Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analysis.
The trends reflect the fact that Americans drive more during the summer months. Weekends and certain holidays with increased alcohol consumption also see spikes in deaths.
To find out when crashes are most likely to occur, IIHS researchers examined federal fatal crash data from 1998 to 2014. The study confirms many of the trends identified in an earlier IIHS analysis during 1986-2002.
“Roadway deaths have declined since our original study, but the pattern of deaths is unchanged,” said Charles Farmer, IIHS vice president of research and statistical services. “The riskiest times still remain risky.”
Annual traffic deaths fell during the new study period, with most of the drop occurring between 2007 and 2010. The number of fatalities averaged 106 per day during the 17-year period.
As in the earlier analysis, weekends were deadlier than weekdays, with an average of 139 deaths on Saturdays, compared to 89 on Tuesdays. The highest number of deaths occurred between 3 and 7 p.m.and the lowest between 3 and 6 a.m. July and August were the deadliest months, with an average daily toll of 116. They were followed by June, October and September.
Pedestrian deaths, which comprised 12 percent of all traffic deaths during the study period, were generally highest in late November and early December, when days are getting shorter. Jan. 1 was the worst single day for pedestrian deaths.
Motorcyclist deaths accounted for 10 percent of fatalities, with July 4 having the highest number of motorcyclist fatalities. The other dates in the top 10 also were in warm-weather months.
IIHS is an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses—deaths, injuries and property damage—from crashes on the nation’s roads. It is wholly supported by auto insurers and insurance associations, including Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. For more information, visit iihs.org.