Crashes by Month

Travel patterns and monthly fatality patterns in 2020 are notably different, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting in March 2020, vehicle miles traveled decreased compared to previous years. April marked the low point for both the number of miles traveled and fatalities. However, the lower traffic volumes did not result in safer roads. The death rate per 100 million vehicle miles spiked in April and remained high for the remainder of the year. August was the month with the most motor-vehicle deaths.

Looking at death rate per 100 million vehicle miles, the lowest rate occurred in January, prior to the pandemic, and the highest was in June. The mileage death rate helps correct for the variation in monthly mileage and is a more accurate measure of risk when comparing trends.

Monthly trends by year can also be explored by adjusting the filter at the top of the interactive chart. Scroll through the years, to contrast the 2020 fatality patterns compared to previous years. Over the last several years, January and February generally experienced the fewest motor-vehicle fatalities, while July, August, or October experienced the most.

Much of the variation in monthly motor-vehicle fatalities is associated with the number of vehicle miles. During the winter months, both vehicle miles and deaths go down, while in the summer months, vehicle miles and deaths increase.

In a typical year, the death rate per 100 million vehicle miles does not fluctuate to the same degree as do fatalities during the course of the year. However, because of the travel changes that occurred throughout the year resulting from the pandemic, the death rate in 2020 also fluctuated more than usual.

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Source: National Safety Council (NSC) analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data.