What Is the Worst Month to Drive?

semi truck and car driving on highway

If you were to guess which month is the riskiest to drive, would you think it is January, when revelers tend to crash on New Year’s Day? Or perhaps July, when the same thing happens on Independence Day? Is it November or December when people hit the road for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays?

Nope. It is September. According to separate studies, there are more traffic deaths per vehicle mile traveled in that month than in any other of the year.

From 2009 through 2018, there were, on average, 12.3 traffic fatalities per billion miles driven in September, according to Michael Sivak, a transportation analyst with Sivak Applied Research. October was the second worst month with a dozen deaths per billion miles driven. And March was the least risky with a death rate of 10.3, which is 19 percent fewer accidents than in late summer and early fall.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit funded by auto insurance companies and dedicated to reducing losses from motor-vehicle crashes, documented the same pattern from 1998 through 2014, finding that an average of 14.2 people died per billion vehicle miles driven in September.

Both reports calculated the rates using road fatalities from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and vehicle miles traveled from the Federal Highway Administration.

In general, most traffic fatalities occur in the summer and fall and around holidays when more people are on the road. Weekends are worse than weekdays, and more crashes tend to happen between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. Based on the numbers, August and July were the worst months for traffic fatalities with an average of 116 people dying each day. The daily average for September was 112, but when the researchers accounted for the number of vehicle miles traveled in each month, September rose to the top.

September is the tail end of summer, and  also when it begins to get dark earlier, making driving more challenging for young drivers with less experience behind the wheel and older drivers who have difficulty seeing at night. If you or a family member have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, we at the McCraw Law Group are here ready to help put your life back together and hold those at fault accountable.

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