Fatal Crashes Spike on St. Patrick’s Day - 8-9 p.m. the most dangerous time on the road

Ben Guess
· 4 min read
Key Insights:
  • There are an average of 89 fatal crashes on St. Patrick’s Day, nearly 10% more than other days during the same week.
  • 32% of fatal crashes on St. Patrick’s Day involved a driver with a BAC above 0.08 g/dL.
  • Crashes spike from 8-9 p.m., with a secondary spike from 1-3 a.m. the next day.
The highest rates of crashes per population are in
South Carolina
, and

Fatal Crash Rate Spikes on St. Patrick’s Day 

New data analysis from
shows that there have been an average of 89 fatal crashes on St. Patrick’s Day between 2006-2020, nearly 10% more than any other day between March 14 and 22.
One reason for this is, of course, the level of alcohol consumption. St. Patrick’s Day is the third most popular drinking holiday, and is especially popular for beer drinkers—according to
, approximately 13 million pints of Guinness are consumed around the world on St. Patrick’s Day
An increase of drunk drivers behind the wheel is a big contributor to the spike in St. Patrick’s Day fatal crashes. On average, 32% of all fatal crashes on St. Patrick’s day involved a driver with a BAC exceeding 0.08 g/dL, 4% higher than the daily average. This impact lingers into the following day as well. 34% of all fatal crashes on the day following St. Patrick’s day—March 18—involved a driver with a BAC exceeding 0.08 g/dL, an entire 6% higher than the daily average. The largest spike in the March 18 crashes is between 1 and 3 a.m., at an average of four fatal crashes per hour due to drunk driving. This spike correlates with bar closing times across America, and is likely reflective of drivers returning home after St. Patrick’s day celebrations.
The day of the week also matters. The three most fatal St. Patrick’s Days in recent years—2006 (114 fatal crashes), 2007 (114), and 2012 (111)—all fell on a Friday or Saturday. According to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
, drunk driving is already a common occurrence on weekends, as 62% of drunk driving-related fatalities occurred on weekends last year. This also indicates that, since St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Thursday in 2022, this year’s holiday might be a safer day to drive than in other years.

The Most Dangerous Time to Drive is in the Evening

The most dangerous time to drive on St. Patrick’s Day is between 8-9 p.m., with an average of seven fatal crashes during that hour.
Between 8-9 p.m., many celebrations are just getting underway, but some drivers who began their celebrations earlier in the day are heading home exhausted. With an influx of people on the road, and a likely higher-than-usual number of drunk drivers, the number of fatal accidents increases. 
On March 18, the day following St. Patrick’s Day, there is also a crash peak between 1-3 a.m. Many bars close around this time, and it is likely bar-goers are returning home either tired or with some alcohol in their system. This correlates with an uptick in fatal crashes due to drunk driving mentioned in the previous section.

Drivers In These States Are At Highest Risk

The five states with the highest fatality rates per 100,000 people are Wyoming (1.04 fatalities), South Carolina (0.86), Alabama (0.82), Mississippi (0.74), and Louisiana (0.73).
There are a few different reasons that Wyoming might be at the top of the list. Wyoming is a rural state, meaning that drunk drivers might have a long way to drive before getting home, increasing the chances of a crash.
All other states have large, rural regions in the state. Living in such states may mean less access to public transportation and ride-hailing services, making driving the only way to easily get around. With wider stretches of rural areas and the need to drive to get around, some drunk drivers may get behind the wheel because they feel that it’s the only way for them to get home. 


St. Patrick’s Day can be a day of celebration, but it’s also important to keep safety as a first priority. If possible, avoid driving between 8-9 p.m., and stick to driving on the 17th rather than early on the 18th. When making celebratory plans, make sure you have a designated driver, you know the route you’ll be taking home, and that you’re driving at a safe time of night. This will allow you to enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations without the risk, and will keep the holiday a safe and enjoyable time for everyone.


Jerry used crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from 2006-2020 to examine the time and volume of fatal crashes throughout the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period. The St. Patrick’s Day period is defined as being between March 14 and March 22.

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