Alcohol-Involved Fatal Crashes 16% More Common During St. Patrick’s Day Holiday Than Rest of Month

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St. Patrick’s Day is quickly approaching. Although fun and festive, the alcohol-heavy holiday may be more risky for drivers. In fact, fatal crashes involving alcohol are 16.1% more common during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday than the rest of March, according to the latest LendingTree study, which analyzes 15-year averages.

In addition to highlighting our findings, we’ll go over how you can prepare to be on the road during this year’s St. Patrick’s Day, including making sure your auto insurance is up to date.

  • Over 15 years, alcohol-involved fatal crashes were 16.1% more common during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday than the rest of March. We tallied the number of deadly crashes on each day in March between 2007 and 2021 (the latest available) and calculated 15-year averages for each day of the month. Excluding the St. Patrick’s Day holiday from March 16 to 18, an average of 978 fatal crashes per calendar day involved an alcohol-impaired driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .01 or higher. Solely during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday calendar days (March 16 through 18), that figure increased to an average of 1,135 deadly crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver.
  • The average number of young drivers ages 21 to 24 involved in fatal crashes rose 15.0% during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. From 2007 to 2021, an average of 300 people this age were involved in deadly crashes across each March calendar day (excluding the holiday). During the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, that number rose to 345.
  • Fatal crashes involving hit-and-runs increased by 12.5% during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. Other incidents involved in fatal crashes also spiked during the holiday period, with distracted driving rising 7.9% and speeding rising 5.7% during March 16 through 18 from 2007 to 2021.
  • Fatal crashes involving motorcycles and large trucks increased by 14.1% and 9.9% during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, respectively. Each day in March (outside the holiday) averaged 149 deadly crashes involving motorcycles and 141 involving large trucks. However, during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, those numbers jumped to 170 for motorcycles and 155 for large trucks.
  • Fatal crashes involving rollovers increased by 7.6%, while those involving roadway departures rose by 5.9% during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. In March outside the holiday over the 15 years analyzed, an average of 301 deadly crashes per day in March involved a rollover. This increased to an average of 324 during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. Meanwhile, roadway departure-involved fatal crashes rose from 649 per day outside the holiday to 687 during the holiday.

What’s considered the St. Patrick’s Day holiday?In our analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data using the Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST), researchers compared fatal crash data for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday to the fatal crash data for the rest of March.

More specifically, researchers compared average crash data during March 16 to 18 (the St. Patrick’s Day holiday) to the average crash data during the rest of March (March 1 through 31, excluding March 16 to 18). Analysts used daily data in March from 2007 through 2021 — the latest available.

Over 15 years, fatal crashes involving alcohol were 16.1% more common during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday than the rest of March. Excluding the three-day holiday period, an average of 978 deadly crashes per calendar day involved an alcohol-impaired driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .01 or higher between 2007 and 2021.

During the St. Patrick’s Day holiday (March 16 through 18) over those same years, that figure increased to an average of 1,135 fatal crashes.

% change in fatal crashes involving alcohol during St. Patrick’s Day holiday

Driver BAC Average fatal crashes per day in March (excluding St. Patrick’s Day holiday) Average fatal crashes per day during St. Patrick’s Day holiday % change in average fatal crashes per day between 2 periods
BAC .00 g/dL 2,026 2,119 4.6%
BAC .01+ g/dL 978 1,135 16.1%
BAC .08+ g/dL 821 947 15.3%
BAC .15+ g/dL 543 626 15.3%

Source: LendingTree analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data from 2007 through 2021. Note: We used March 16 to 18 as the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period.

That may not be surprising, given that St. Patrick’s Day is heavily focused around drinking. However, according to LendingTree auto insurance expert and licensed insurance agent Rob Bhatt, those figures are stark and concerning.

“This suggests that people are choosing to ignore the safety messaging around impaired driving. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and several other organizations have done a very good job raising awareness about the dangers of drunken driving,” he says. “Most cities and states have followed their lead by stepping up enforcement of impaired driving laws and enacting stiffer punishment for driving under the influence.”

Meanwhile, he says, relatively newer services like Uber and Lyft and increased awareness may have helped curb drunken driving in recent years — and may help lower that spike in alcohol-involved accidents during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.

It’s not just alcohol-involved crashes that spiked — the number of young Americans involved in fatal crashes also rose. The average number of young Americans ages 21 to 24 involved in deadly crashes rose 15.0% during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, jumping from 300 people on an average nonholiday March day to 345 during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.

For comparison, the average number of older Americans 60 and older involved in these crashes jumped just 6.3% in the same period. Between 2007 and 2021, an average of 507 people in this age group were involved in fatal crashes on an average March day. That rose to 539 during the holiday period.

% change in people involved in fatal crashes, ages 21 to 24 and 60+

Age involved in fatal crash Average people involved in fatal crashes per day in March (excluding St. Patrick’s Day holiday) Average people involved in fatal crashes per day during St. Patrick’s Day holiday % change in average people involved in fatal crashes per day between 2 periods
21 to 24 300 345 15.0%
60+ 507 539 6.3%

Source: LendingTree analysis of NHTSA FARS data from 2007 through 2021. Note: We used March 16 to 18 as the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period.

According to Bhatt, risk certainly plays a role in this.

Of the common risky driving behaviors, excessive speed, impairment and distracted driving are often cited among the leading causes of car crashes. According to the National Safety Council, 31% of male drivers and 19% of female drivers ages 21 to 24 in fatal crashes in 2021 were speeding — the second-highest by age group. Meanwhile, 27% of drivers ages 21 to 24 involved in deadly crashes had a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher.

In the same vein, it’s also worth noting that fatal crashes involving distracted driving and speeding also spiked during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. More specifically, our analysis showed fatal crashes involving distracted driving rose 7.9% and deadly crashes involving speeding rose 5.7% during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday (compared to the rest of the month) from 2007 to 2021.

% change in fatal crashes involving hit-and-runs, distracted driving and speeding during St. Patrick’s Day holiday

Fatal crash incident type Average fatal crashes per day in March (excluding St. Patrick’s Day holiday) Average fatal crashes per day during St. Patrick’s Day holiday % change in average fatal crashes per day between 2 periods
Hit-and-run 64 72 12.5%
Distracted driving 127 137 7.9%
Speeding 349 369 5.7%

Source: LendingTree analysis of NHTSA FARS data from 2007 through 2021. Note: We used March 16 to 18 as the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period.

Meanwhile, fatal crashes involving hit-and-runs increased by 12.5% during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, jumping from an average of 64 crashes in March to 72 during that holiday period.

St. Patrick’s Day risk extends to all drivers — not just those who drive cars. In fact, fatal crashes involving motorcycles increased 14.1% during the holiday, jumping from an average of 149 on a typical March day to 170 during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.

Meanwhile, fatal crashes involving large trucks increased by 9.9%, jumping from 141 to 155.

% change in fatal crashes involving motorcycles and large trucks during St. Patrick’s Day holiday

Vehicle involved in fatal crash Average fatal crashes per day in March (excluding St. Patrick’s Day holiday) Average fatal crashes per day during St. Patrick’s Day holiday % change in average fatal crashes per day between 2 periods
Motorcycles 149 170 14.1%
Large trucks 141 155 9.9%

Source: LendingTree analysis of NHTSA FARS data from 2007 through 2021. Note: We used March 16 to 18 as the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period.

Bhatt says potentially impaired drivers are common risks for both motorcycles and large trucks.

“Impaired drivers may cut you off, fail to yield or create other hazardous situations,” he says. “A bigger threat to motorcycles is not being seen by an impaired driver who changes lanes in front of you or cuts you off in an intersection. Large trucks also face the risk of impaired drivers cutting them off. It’s particularly dangerous when a driver, impaired or not, abruptly changes lanes in front of a large truck and slams on their brakes.”

Also worth noting, rollovers increased by 7.6%, rising from an average of 301 fatal crashes per day on a typical March day to an average of 324 during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. Meanwhile, roadway departures increased by 5.9%, rising from 649 fatal crashes per day outside the holiday to 687 deadly crashes per day during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.

% change in fatal crashes involving rollovers and road departure during St. Patrick’s Day

Incident involved in fatal crash Average fatal crashes per day in March (excluding St. Patrick’s Day holiday) Average fatal crashes per day during St. Patrick’s Day holiday % change in average fatal crashes per day between 2 periods
Rollover 301 324 7.6%
Roadway departure 649 687 5.9%

Source: LendingTree analysis of NHTSA FARS data from 2007 through 2021. Note: We used March 16 to 18 as the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period.

Bhatt attributes those spikes to the rise in alcohol-impaired drivers during the holiday.

“The fact that fatal crashes involving alcohol increased by 16.1% around St. Patrick’s Day is a powerful statistic,” he says. “Alcohol impairs you in many different ways. It can impair your ability to think clearly and avoid risks. It can also impair your ability to accurately assess your speed, the distance between your vehicle and other objects, and even your vehicle’s turning radius and handling capabilities. These are all factors that can cause you to roll your car or depart the roadway.”

This St. Patrick’s Day, don’t let your luck run out on the road. As a driver, you could face serious financial consequences for driving under the influence. In fact, a DUI increases the average cost of car insurance by 86%, according to a LendingTree analysis of car insurance costs with a DUI.

With that in mind, calling a friend or assigning a designated driver in your group certainly limits risk. Beyond that, a taxi, Uber or Lyft is always cheaper than a DUI.

If you’re not partaking in the festivities but plan to be on the road during the holiday weekend, it may be worthwhile to check your car insurance policy and ensure your current coverage meets your needs.

LendingTree researchers analyzed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data using the Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST).

Researchers analyzed fatal crash data in March and compared March 16 to 18 (St. Patrick’s Day holiday) to the rest of March (excluding March 16 to 18). To calculate this, analysts examined daily data in March from 2007 through 2021 — the latest available.

Data on various topics was analyzed using this comparison:

  • The blood alcohol content (BAC) level of drivers involved in fatal crashes
  • People involved in deadly crashes for both the 21-to-24 and 60+ age groups
  • Fatal crashes involving hit-and-runs, distracted driving and speeding
  • Fatal crashes involving motorcycles and large trucks
  • Serious incidents — rollovers and roadway departures — involved in deadly crashes

Source

This article originally appeared on LendingTree and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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This article originally appeared on LendingTree and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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