Independence Day

Independence Day Holiday Period Estimate for 2021

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates 482 people may die on U.S. roads this Independence Day holiday period. Holidays traditionally are a time of travel for families across the United States. Many choose car travel, which has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation based on fatalities per passenger mile. Holidays are also often a cause for celebrations involving alcohol consumption, a major contributing factor to motor-vehicle crashes.

Independence Day is observed on July 4. The Independence Day holiday period varies from 1.25 to 4.25 days in length, depending on which day of the week the holiday falls. In 2021, the holiday falls on a Sunday, so the Independence Day holiday period is 3.25 days and extends from 6 p.m. Friday, July 2nd to 11:59 p.m. Monday, July 5th.

Visit the Holiday introduction page for a list of holiday periods and their definitions.

National Safety Council estimate

There is uncertainty associated with any estimate. The 90% confidence interval for the estimate of traffic deaths this holiday is 396 to 577. This confidence interval cannot account for the rapid lifestyle and transportation changes currently occurring as the country reopens from the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the unprecedented impact the COVID-19 recovery is having on social activities, the uncertainty of this year’s estimate is increased. This chart shows NSC Independence Day holiday fatality estimates and confidence intervals compared to the actual number of deaths. Because the holiday varies from 1.25 to 4.25 days long, the number of fatalities during the holiday also fluctuates widely from year to year.

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Source: Estimates and confidence intervals are calculated by NSC; actual deaths reflect NSC analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data.

Injuries

medically consulted injury is an injury serious enough that a medical professional was consulted. Based on the current medically consulted injury-to-death ratio of 114:1 and rounded to the nearest hundred, the estimate of nonfatal medically consulted injuries that will result from crashes during the holiday period is 55,000, with a 90% confidence interval of 45,100 to 65,800.

Lives saved with seat belts

Studies show seat belts, when used, are 45% effective in preventing fatalities among front-seat passenger car occupants (see note below for more details). Based on the projected number of vehicle occupants who will wear seat belts, an estimated 191 lives may be saved this Independence Day holiday period. An additional 112 lives could be saved if all vehicle occupants wear seat belts.

Impaired Driving

Nationwide, alcohol-impaired fatalities (involving blood-alcohol content of 0.08 g/dL or higher) in 2019 represented 28% of the total traffic fatalities. During the Independence Day period, 38% of fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver, the highest percentage among all the major holidays. This chart shows the historic trend of the percent of fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver.

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Source: NHTSA, Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool

Note: Highest blood-alcohol concentration among drivers or motorcycle riders involved in the crash was 0.08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher. The holiday periods used to calculate the percentages conform to the NHTSA holiday period definitions that add another quarter day to the periods used for the NSC estimate.

Although the reduction in the risk of fatal injury from wearing seat belts is higher for light-truck occupants at 50%, the lower figure for passenger car occupants is used in the calculations here as the more conservative measure. The most recent data from FARS indicate that seat belt use by fatally injured passenger car and light truck occupants was 48.4%.

See data details