Holidays are some of the year's best days, with 95% of Americans participating in the holiday cheer. However, they also have their share of risks.
From treacherous traveling conditions to decorating mishaps and fire hazards, the holiday season can be less than merry.
This article will delve into holiday accident statistics that will make you think twice about your safety this holiday season. Let's dive in!
- 9% of all traffic deaths in December occur during Christmas.
- 206,400 holiday injuries resulted from toys.
- 1600 cooking-related fires happen on Thanksgiving annually.
- 8,500 people suffered from fireworks-related injuries in 2021.
- Christmas tree fires cost $10 million in direct property damage.
- An estimated 2,295 people died in motor vehicle crashes during the holiday period.
- 300 people are killed annually due to drunk driving between Christmas and New Year's.
- 22,000 emergency medical service workers are injured at work each year.
- 40% of Gen Zers reported being injured during the holidays.
- Males are 40% more likely to sustain fall injuries during the holidays than females.
How Many Holiday Accidents Happen Yearly?
Of the three, Thanksgiving is often dubbed the 'deadliest holiday' on the road. While all three major holidays have their fair share of risks, the sheer volume of vehicles on the road during Thanksgiving is a significant factor in accidents.
Fifty-five million people traveled for Thanksgiving in 2022. Out of those, 49 million drove. This figure is the third highest on record! For more shocking statistics, keep reading.
Statistics on Holiday Accidents Report
Aside from vehicular accidents being a significant cause of injuries and fatalities, 13% of people celebrating the holidays report injuries from opening gifts, while 11% report tripping and slipping.
Other common holiday injuries are falls, fires, back and neck strain, and food and alcohol poisoning. The statistics below highlight these usual holiday accidents, their extent, and their causes:
1. 9% of all traffic deaths in December occur during Christmas.
The 6-year average of total deaths for Christmas shows 286 out of 3192 fatalities. While this number looks high, summer holidays such as Memorial Day and Independence Day still tend to have higher fatality rates than winter holidays such as Christmas and New Year's.
Traveling on holiday weekends is also riskier than non-holiday ones because more travelers drive and stay longer on the road.
2. 206,400 holiday injuries resulted from toys.
In 2021, 206,400 people were sent to the emergency room due to toy-related injuries. Of these, two deaths were recorded.
Choking and suffocation due to small toy parts were the main reasons for deaths. Other injuries involved lacerations, abrasions, and contusions.
Some other statistics about toy-related injuries are:
- ¾ of the total number of injuries were sustained by children younger than 14
- 69% were by children younger than 12
- 37% of those injured were four or younger
- Males accounted for 58% of all toy-related injuries.
3. 1600 cooking-related fires happen on Thanksgiving annually.
Three hundred sixty thousand fires occur at homes yearly, causing nearly 2,400 deaths and 10,900 injuries. Almost half of these are due to cooking fires, leading to 200 deaths and a third of home fire injuries.
Turkey-eating culture is a primary culprit in these fires. Since 2000, 217 fire, scald, and burn accidents have occurred involving people trying to cook their Thanksgiving turkeys in turkey fryers.
4. 276 people died from drunk driving on St. Patrick's Day.
Drunk driving was a key culprit in the total deaths between 2009-2013 on St. Patrick's Day. Alcohol-related deaths occur every 72 minutes on this holiday. From this, 75% happened with drivers who had drunk twice the legal limit.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year's, the distilled spirits industry makes a quarter of its $49 billion profit.
5. 2,600 fireworks injuries affected hands.
The numbers show that fireworks affected hands and fingers the most. Following this, there are head, face, ears, leg, eye, and arm injuries.
55% of these injuries were due to malfunctioning fireworks, while 45% were due to misuse or improper preparation.
6. Christmas tree fires cost $10 million in direct property damage.
(NFPA, NFPA Public Education Division)
Christmas trees were the cause of 160 home fires between 2015 and 2019. Almost a third of all Christmas tree fires have electrical issues as a significant contributing factor.
While they are not always expected, fires caused by Christmas trees are more likely to be serious. Having a heat source, such as candles or heating equipment, that is too close to the tree starts 20% of these fires.
Holiday Accident Fatalities Statistics
Amidst the festive cheer, it's important to remember that the holiday season increases the risk of fatalities.
From extreme weather, unsafe roads, and alcohol-induced injuries, let's check out some mind-boggling statistics on the holiday death tolls.
7. An estimated 2,295 people died in motor vehicle crashes during major holiday periods.
According to the 2019 report on holiday fatalities, 2,295 people died in vehicle accidents. Here's the breakdown:
- 594 died during the Fourth of July
- 448 for Labor Day
- 454 for Thanksgiving
- 99 from Christmas to New Year's Day
In general, more accidents occur during the holidays than during non-holidays. In 2017, estimates showed that 102 people died on non-holidays. On the other hand, 119 people die daily during holidays.
8. More than 100 people died in the Christmas Week blizzard of 2022.
(LA Times, CNBC)
As much as 43 inches of snow fell on Buffalo, New York when a blizzard ravaged the Southeast, Midwest, and East Coast during the Christmas holiday season in 2022.
This caused impassable roads, and frozen power stations, killing more than a dozen people in Buffalo alone and causing $5.4 billion in damage nationwide.
Strong winds due to the lake effect in the Great Lakes areas cause hazardous conditions for motorists during this season.
9. 300 people are killed annually due to drunk driving between Christmas and New Year's.
(American Addiction Centers, Kwartler Manus)
42% of all accidents in New Year's are due to intoxicated drivers. Due to the rush of celebrations, people often lose control of their alcohol intake.
3% of men and 16.7% of women say they have lost consciousness due to drinking during New Year's. While some holiday champagne can't hurt anyone, intoxication during the holidays can lead to fatal accidents.
10. One in almost eight deaths in November 2022 occurred during Thanksgiving.
49 million drivers hit the road on Thanksgiving 2022. With this, 3,997 fatalities were forecasted for November of the same year. Of this, roughly 13% occurred during Thanksgiving.
While alcohol intoxication is still a major contributing factor, this sharp increase is likely due to driver fatigue due to traveling long distances.
11. 39% of deaths during Christmas involve alcohol-impaired drivers.
In 2020, intoxicated drivers were significant culprits in road accidents during Christmas. This percentage is even higher during New Year's, with 49% of drivers having high alcohol content.
Meanwhile, Thanksgiving has a lower 30% rate. Substantial amounts of alcohol can cause an impaired sense of movement and poor decision-making, making drivers lose control of their vehicles.
12. 303 people died in Texas on six major holidays.
(Texas Department of Transportation)
There were 55 reported crashes and 61 deaths on Thanksgiving alone, with Houston being the most fatal city. Other crash and fatality statistics are:
Fourth of July
The high numbers in Texas are likely due to its population. From December 1 to January 1, 2021, 433 fatalities were recorded in Texas, of which 23% were due to drunk driving.
13. 630 people die in holiday fires annually.
343,100 fires happen annually in the US, and numbers often rise during the holiday season, with Christmas being a significant risk period.
Roughly 156,00 fires occur during the holiday season, killing 630, injuring 2,200, and causing $554 million in estimated total property damage.
While Christmas trees may seem harmless additions to your living room, it's best to ensure they are fireproof and connected to proper electrical outlets, away from anything hot.
Holiday Accident Demographics
Holiday injuries aren't the same throughout the population. The most recent available data shows a disparity among genders, employee types, ages, and generations regarding holiday accidents.
Check out the following statistics on holiday accidents and their most common demographics below!
14. 40% of women binge drink during New Year's.
Men also drink the most on this holiday, with 47%. For both genders, New Year's Eve has the highest rate of binge drinking. However, Americans consume the most drinks on Mardi Gras, followed by New Year's and St. Patrick's Day.
Of all the major holidays, people drink the least amount of alcohol on Thanksgiving. Men drink the least on Thanksgiving, while women drink the least on Labor Day.
15. 22,000 emergency medical service workers are injured at work each year.
The holiday season is one of the busiest seasons for EMS workers due to increased accidents during the holiday rush. EMS workers with less than ten years of experience and full-time workers reported the most injuries.
16. 40 residential fires are caused by children per day.
Residential fires caused by kids show consistent upticks during the winter holidays. The number of fires peaked on December 19 and fluctuated afterward. However, the number of fires sank to 20 per day on Christmas Day and December 26.
This plateau is likely due to the added presence and supervision of parents and kids busy with their gifts.
17. 40% of Gen Zers reported being injured during the holidays.
(Value Penguin, Journal of Safety Research)
Gen Zers are also more likely to get injured at work. Younger workers experienced more nonfatal injuries than their older colleagues.
However, they also accounted for fewer fatal injuries in the workplace. Younger workers tend to work in more informal, miscellaneous jobs or sales and service work with above-average manual labor.
18. Males are 40% more likely to sustain fall injuries during the holidays than females.
17,465 people received treatment in emergency departments due to holiday-decorating falls. The most common age group for injuries is those aged 20–49.
43% of injuries were from falling from ladders. Falls from roofs, furniture, and stairs were also common culprits.
The Bottom Line
The holidays are the perfect time to unwind. Regardless, being mindful of the potential risks associated with festivities is essential.
Keep yourself, your friends, and your family safe by being cautious and alert. Adopting a safety-first mindset would also significantly prevent holiday horrors.