Labor Day Holiday Period Estimate for 2021

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates 466 people may die on U.S. roads this Labor Day holiday period. This year’s holiday fatality estimate is 19% higher than the 2020 Labor Day estimate of 390, reflecting the overall increase in motor-vehicle deaths in 2021. 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. Labor Day is observed on the first Monday in September. The holiday is always a 3.25-day weekend consisting of Friday evening, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. In 2021, the Labor Day weekend extends from 6 p.m. Friday, September 3, to 11:59 p.m. Monday, September 6.

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 386 to 552. This confidence interval cannot fully account for the unknown impact of the rapidly evolving response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential impact to holiday travel. Because of the unprecedented impact COVID-19 is having on social activities, the uncertainty of this year’s estimate is increased. This chart shows NSC Labor Day holiday fatality estimates and confidence intervals compared to the actual number of deaths.

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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 53,100, with a 90% confidence interval of 44,000 to 63,000.

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 detail). An estimated 184 lives may be saved this Labor Day holiday period because vehicle occupants wear their safety belts. An additional 108 lives could be saved if everyone wears safety 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 Labor Day period, 38% of the fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver. This chart shows the historic trend of the percent of fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver.

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Source: NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts Annual Report Tables

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