Nearly 800 People May Die on Roads Over Christmas, New Year Holidays

NSC estimates an increase in roadway deaths, urges proper seat belt use to save 500 lives.

December 20, 2021

ITASCA, IL -- The National Safety Council estimates 798 people may be killed on the roadways during the upcoming holidays; 371 during the Christmas holiday driving period, and an additional 427 during the New Year's holiday driving period. That number would likely be significantly higher if not for seat belts, which are estimated to save more than 310 lives over the same driving periods. In 2020, 90% of front seat passengers used seat belts. If 100% of seated occupants wear their seat belts, it’s estimated an additional 180 lives could be saved over the holidays.

Additionally, sober driving will be critical, as alcohol typically is involved in 38% of fatalities during the Christmas Day holiday period and 36% of fatalities during the New Year's Day holiday period. 

NSC implores each person in every seat to buckle up, ensure car seats are properly installed and designate a sober and drug-free driver or arrange alternative transportation. The Christmas holiday period begins at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 23, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 26. The New Year's holiday period begins at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 30, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022.

"This holiday season, I urge every person on the road to take safety personally and focus on making it home safely to celebrate and make memories with loved ones," said Lorraine Martin, NSC president and CEO. "We can all do our part by buckling up, driving sober, slowing down, avoiding distractions and looking out for one another."

NSC monthly analysis shows the roads have become increasingly deadly. Preliminary estimates showed a 16% increase in motor vehicle deaths through the first six months of 2021 as more people began to hit the roads following pandemic lock-downs. This increase is a deadly trend that started last year during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and negates more than 15 years of progress in preventing death on U.S. roads. In the first six months of 2021, NSC estimates more than 21,400 people may have lost their lives on our roadways.

All motor vehicle fatalities are preventable. In addition to wearing a seat belt and avoiding impairment, NSC recommends drivers:

Supplemental traffic fatality and injury information can be found on the NSC Injury Facts pages for the Christmas and New Year's holiday periods.

About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council is America’s leading nonprofit safety advocate – and has been for over 100 years. As a mission-based organization, we work to eliminate the leading causes of preventable death and injury, focusing our efforts on the workplace, roadway and impairment. We create a culture of safety to not only keep people safer at work, but also beyond the workplace so they can live their fullest lives.

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