Despite several years of steady declines, deadly vehicle crashes are on the rise, according to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The safest day to be on the road: Tuesday. The most dangerous? Saturday.
That's according to a new study by Avvo, an online legal referral and review site, which analyzed data from NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System in 2016 on how many car crash-related fatalities happened across the country by weekday and time of day.
The analysis found that 6,802 lives were lost on Saturday out of the 37,461 road deaths that occurred in 2016. That was 53% higher than the 4,444 deaths that happened on a Tuesday, the day with the least number of crash-related fatalities.
The second and third deadliest days were also associated with the weekend: Friday (5,826) and Sunday (5,809).
"We can see various trends across the country where more drivers are on the roads during the weekends and also more careless and potentially reckless during this time," said Avvo marketing executive Jeremy Reitman.
The analysis also found that the afternoon rush hour time period is more dangerous than the morning commute.
The deadliest time period of the day was between 4 p.m. to 6:59 p.m., with 6,201 crash-related fatalities. That was 85% higher than the 3,345 deaths that occurred in the time between 7 a.m to 9:59 a.m., the time period with the lowest number of fatalities.
One reason? Drunken driving
One of the major factors involved with fatal car crashes is drunken driving, according to NHTSA.
The safety agency found that there were 10,497 deaths from alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2016.
That means that 28% of the 37,461 traffic fatalities in 2016 involved drivers with blood-alcohol concentrations of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dl) or higher, the legal limit for driving under the influence or while impaired in all 50 states.
Despite a drop in drunken-driving fatalities by a third in the last three decades, NHTSA says that 29 people in the U.S. died in alcohol-impaired vehicle crashes every day in 2016, or one person every 50 minutes.
And more of those fatalities occur on the weekends and at night.
“The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes was 3.3 times at night than during the day,” the NHTSA study reports.
Twenty-six percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes during the weekend were alcohol-impaired, compared to 14% on the weekdays.
The top months for drunk driving fatalities: July (9.5%), May (9.1%), and October (9.1%).
Another factor: Speeding
That makes up about 27% of all fatal crashes.
NHTSA says speeding is a type of aggressive driving behavior that increases the consequences by endangering yourself and other motorists and pedestrians due to a greater potential for loss of vehicle control and increased degree of crash severity and injuries.
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