Hawaii named among safest states for Thanksgiving travel
Around 48.7 million Americans will travel this Thanksgiving, and 89% of those travelers will drive to their destination.
Thanksgiving is a time for expressing gratitude, spending time with loved ones, and eating so much turkey and stuffing that you think you’re going to be sick. But before you stuff your face with cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes, you have to actually get to your family and friends. Around 48.7 million Americans will travel this Thanksgiving, and 89% of those travelers will drive to their destination.
We wondered if traveling during Thanksgiving is more dangerous than an average weekend. And if there are more accidents over the Thanksgiving holiday, we wanted to know where these car accidents are occurring. To find out, we analyzed fatal crash data over three years using FARS (Fatality Analysis Reporting System) data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).1,2,3 You can read more about our methodology by clicking here.
Thanksgiving travel is risky—but not as risky as you might think
Traveling during Thanksgiving is more dangerous than travel on an average weekend, but Thanksgiving isn’t the most dangerous holiday for travelers.
According to our research, there’s a 19% increase in accidents during Thanksgiving compared to a typical weekend. However, Labor Day is the most dangerous holiday for accidents. Between 2014 and 2016, there were 429 fatal Labor Day car crashes, which is about 16% more than there were on Thanksgiving.
Alcohol-impaired driving causes 29% of fatal car accidents, so if you’re planning on indulging in some wine with your Thanksgiving feast, don’t get behind the wheel.
Speeding is also a huge issue, and it’s the primary cause of 28% of fatal accidents. It’s always important to follow the speed limit, but even more so during the holidays where roads are more congested than usual.
Thanksgiving travel safety across the US
Where are people going over Thanksgiving? Which destinations are more dangerous? Let’s look at the data.
•Orlando, New York City, and Philadelphia are popular Thanksgiving travel destinations, but all three cities are also some of the most dangerous places to travel over the holiday.
•Houston, TX is the most dangerous city in the US for Thanksgiving travel.
•Las Vegas, NV is the most popular city to visit over Thanksgiving. When some people think turkey with Grandma, it looks like others think Texas Hold‘em.
•California is one of the most popular states for Thanksgiving travel. We get it. That California sunshine sounds lovely.
•Lots of people head to Orlando and Anaheim over Thanksgiving. Is it a coincidence that these two cities are home to some of the happiest places on earth? Probably not.
Thanksgiving travel by city
Heading to sunny Florida during the cold winter months sounds appealing, but Orlando is also one of the most dangerous cities to travel to during the holiday. It looks like alligators aren’t the only reason to rethink your holiday plans. If you do head to one of the cities with more Thanksgiving weekend fatalities, research your route before you drive, pay close attention to the cars around you, make sure you aren’t sleepy when you drive—and of course—buckle up.
Most popular cities for Thanksgiving travel:
1. Las Vegas, NV
2. San Francisco, CA
3. San Diego, CA
4. Orlando, FL
5. New York City, NY
6. New Orleans, LA
7. Anaheim, CA
8. Fort Lauderdale, FL
9. Philadelphia, PA
10. Seattle, WA
Most dangerous cities for Thanksgiving travel:
1. Houston, TX
2. Los Angeles, CA
3. Orlando, FL
4. Atlanta, GA
5. Greensboro, NC
6. Philadelphia, PA
7. New York, NY
8. Columbus, OH
9. Chicago, IL
10. Greenville, SC
Safest cities for Thanksgiving travel:
Some cities have a history of being safer over Thanksgiving weekend.
1.West Point, MS
2.Baton Rouge, LA
Thanksgiving travel by state
If you’re heading on a cross-country trek, you might want to look at travel data for states, not just cities. Here are a few of the things we found:
Safest states for Thanksgiving travel:
Rhode Island | (45 deaths) 0.13% of total fatalities
Vermont | (57 deaths) 0.16% of total fatalities
Alaska | (65 deaths) 0.19% of total fatalities
Hawaii | (94 deaths) 0.27% of total fatalities
New Hampshire | (114 deaths) 0.32% of total fatalities
Deadliest states for Thanksgiving travel:
Texas | (3,516 deaths) 10.02% of total fatalities
California | (3,176 deaths) 9.05% of total fatalities
Florida | (2,939) 8.38% of total fatalities
Georgia | (1430) 4.08% of total fatalities
North Carolina | (1379) 3.98% of total fatalities