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When Is It Bad To Be On The Roads?

Managing Partner
The Cochran Firm - Dallas

Drivers beware. Early fall can be fatal. If the results of a new study are any indication, what you thought was the most dangerous time of year on the road probably isn’t the most dangerous after all. The numbers may surprise you.

September is the month with the most traffic fatalities on U.S. roads, according to findings by Michael Sivak of Sivak Applied Research. And, October is close behind.

Granted, specific days each year, including New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July, are unfortunately marred with a tragic number of traffic accidents. The month of September had the most with an average of 12.3 fatalities per billion miles driven and October had 12 fatalities. On the other end, the lowest rate was in March at 10.3, which is 19% fewer than in September.

Sivak calculated the rates using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for road fatality numbers and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for the number of vehicle miles driven from 2009-2018. 

Perhaps the uptick in the early fall fatalities has to do with school resuming and the combination of more school buses on the road, more activities on weekends, as well as drivers of all ages getting familiar with new extracurricular activities and destinations.

In his findings, Sivak noted that “the crashes are due in part to different seasonal variations themselves (such as the proportion of rural to urban driving, consumption of alcohol, age distribution of drivers on the road, proportional amount of leisure driving, duration of darkness, and inclement weather).” 

In other words, a change of seasons brings an unfamiliarity to the roads. It could also mean that more caution is exercised in winter, when the roads are icy, not when the weather is warm.

Sivak’s 2020 study results match up with a 2018 study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It also found September had the highest rate of fatalities on the road (at 14.2 per billion). 

The IIHS, which used the years 1998-2014, also took data from the NHTSA and the FHWA. Along with reporting figures for months of the year, it also included information on specific days. And as Sivak suggested, the daily data shows fatalities increased during milder weather. According to the IIHS, on average, the most fatalities per day occurred in July and August (at about 116 deaths per day). 

The IIHS also reported that the most fatal holiday was in July. Independence Day saw an average of 141 deaths followed by New Year’s Day with 135. 

When it comes to reports such as these, drivers should keep in mind the need to use caution on the road every day of the year. With the NHTSA estimating that more than 32,000 traffic fatalities happen each year, coupled with countless drivers currently preoccupied with the pandemic, it is important to stay alert and aware while driving.

The Cochran Firm Texas cares and wants to help if you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident. If you have questions or would like to discuss possible legal options, feel free to contact us at 1800 THE FIRM (1-800-843-3476) or now via our online chat.


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