2 Days of the Week Are the Deadliest Times to Drive, NHTSA Data Shows

Car accidents are scary. They’re often unpredictable, traumatic events. And though deadly car crashes can happen anytime, they’re likelier to occur on certain days, so it might be helpful to be more cautious during those periods. Here’s a look at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data showing the deadliest days and times to drive.

An overview of the NHTSA’s deadly car crash data

According to the NHTSA, roughly 36,000 fatal car crashes occurred in 2020, the most recent year for which data is available. They make up a small fraction of the total number of motor vehicle accidents, which came in at about 5.25 million. The good news is that most collisions didn’t cause injury or death but rather property damage. Of the roughly 5 million crashes in 2020, about 3.6 million involved property damage. That’s about 69% of all car accidents that year.

Consequently, only 0.68% of crashes in 2020 were fatal. In addition, the deadliest times and days have changed a bit since 2010. For example, over a decade ago, the deadliest times and days were between midnight and 2:59 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

These are the deadliest days and times of the week to drive

Car accidents: Deadliest days to drive
A car accident on a Saturday night in Chelsea, Massachusetts | Joseph Prezioso/ AFP via Getty Images

However, more recently, the deadliest days and times to drive have changed a bit. Saturday is still risky, possibly because many people are out drinking and having fun, but Friday night is now a more dangerous time to drive than Sunday night. In 2020, the most hazardous days and times were Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to midnight. 

On Fridays from 6 p.m. to 8:59 p.m., 1,104 people died in car crashes in 2020. And on Fridays from 9 p.m. to midnight, 1,007 people died in car wrecks. On Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 8:59 p.m., 1,122 people died in car accidents. Saturdays from 9 p.m. to midnight were the deadliest in 2020, when 1,158 people died in vehicle collisions.

In total, 4,391 people died on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to midnight in 2020. That represents 12.3% of all fatal car crashes that year. For comparison, the day and period with the fewest deaths were Tuesdays from 3 a.m. to 5:59 a.m. A total of 330 people died during that span. Tuesday from midnight to 2:59 a.m. and Thursday from 3 a.m. to 5:59 a.m. were also low in fatalities — they both saw 336 deaths.

Which days of the week do most injury crashes happen? 

Fatal car crashes are the worst, but injury accidents are also bad. About 1.6 million collisions resulted in injuries in 2020, representing approximately 30% of all crashes. The days when injury crashes were the most common were Thursday and Friday, and it was at the same time of day.

Most 2020 injury crashes happened on Thursdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 5:59 p.m. A total of 65,693 injury accidents occurred on Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5:59 p.m., while 65,231 happened on Fridays during the same period. Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays also saw a spike in injury crashes from 3 p.m. to 5:59 p.m., suggesting these accidents were related to motorists commuting home from work. 

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