Car Accidents Surge During the 4th of July Holiday

4th of July Car Accidents

The 4th of July, often associated with fireworks, barbecues, and family gatherings, should be a joyous celebration for Americans. However, the surge of car accidents during this holiday makes it one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. 

Independence Day sees an increase in dangerous driving behaviors, making it one of the deadliest holidays to drive. Higher traffic volumes, impaired driving, and distracted driving contribute to the spike in traffic accidents during the 4th of July holiday period. Read on to learn why the Fourth of July holiday period is so deadly and how you can stay safe on the road.


Why Is the 4th of July One of the Deadliest Holidays?

Impaired Driving

Impaired driving peaks during the 4th of July holiday. During the California Highway Patrol’s Maximum Enforcement Period, which ran from 6:01 PM on June 30 to 11:59 PM on July 4, more than 1,220 DUI drivers were taken off the road. During that period, 68 people lost their lives in impaired driving accidents across California.

Impaired driving can involve operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or even prescription medications. Even a small amount of alcohol can impair your ability to drive safely. Alcohol alters judgment, coordination, and reaction times, making it extremely dangerous to operate a vehicle while under the influence.

Higher Traffic Volume

Traffic jam in Los Angeles

Millions of Americans will travel to celebrate the 4th of July with friends and family, significantly increasing the number of vehicles on the road. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), 60.6 million people will travel by car over the Independence Day week. This year’s projected number of car travelers is 5% higher than the actual number of travelers last year (57.8M), which equates to 2.8 million more travelers.

Traffic congestion can lead to frustration and aggressive driving behaviors, further increasing the risk of car accidents. Planning trips during off-peak hours and using real-time traffic apps, such as California Road Report, can help mitigate the impact of higher traffic volumes.

  • The worst times to drive for the Fourth of July week are July 3rd and 4th between 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM.
  • Generally, the best time to drive during the 4th of July week is before noon.

Fatigued Driving

Fatigued driving is another significant risk factor during the 4th of July holiday. Long hours spent celebrating, combined with late-night driving, can lead to driver fatigue. Fatigue impairs cognitive function and reaction times, making it a dangerous condition for driving.

To combat fatigued driving, it’s important to get adequate rest before hitting the road, take regular breaks during long trips, and, if possible, share driving responsibilities with others.


The faster a driver travels, the more time and space they need to react to unexpected situations, including road hazards. Higher traveling speeds also magnify the force of impact in a crash, increasing the severity of injuries and damage.

Law enforcement agencies typically increase patrols and enforcement during the 4th of July holiday period to catch drunk or speeding drivers. In 2023, more than 9,700 speed citations were issued in California during the Fourth of July Holiday weekend.

Firework Accidents

Firework-related injuries and fatalities peak during the 4th of July holiday period. Approximately 15,600 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for firework-related injuries in 2020. When people handle fireworks incorrectly, they can also cause serious fires. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), fireworks start an average of 19,000 fires each year. It’s important to light fireworks one at a time and to move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.


Drunk Driving Statistics on July 4th

Independence Day often ranks as the deadliest day on the road, surpassing other major holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 2018 to 2022, there were 2,228 people that lost their lives in traffic crashes over the 4th of July holiday period. Nearly 40% of these traffic fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver.

Legal Consequences for Impaired Driving in Los Angeles

Under California law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. A driver over the age of 21 is considered legally impaired if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. California has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drivers, meaning that any driver under the age of 21 who is found to have a BAC of 0.01% or higher can face DUI charges.

Penalties for a first DUI offense can include fines between $390 and $1,000, a 4-month license suspension, up to 6 months of jail time, and the completion of a 3-month or 9-month court-approved mandatory DUI education program.


Safe Driving Practices for Independence Day

Practicing safe driving is essential to ensure a safe 4th of July holiday. Here are some key tips:

Drive Home Earlier

Impaired drivers are most frequently on the road after dark, and about 50% of traffic deaths occur at night. Plan to drive home earlier in the day to avoid peak traffic times and impaired drivers.

Don’t Text or Use Your Phone While Driving

driver using mobile phone while driving

Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents and claimed 3,308 lives in 2022. Put your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode and avoid using it while driving. If you need to make a call or send a text, ensure you pull over safely before you use your phone.

Never Drink and Drive

Alcohol significantly impairs your ability to drive safely. If you plan to drink, call a sober friend, use a ride-sharing service or public transportation, or stay overnight at your destination.

Be the Designated Driver

Volunteer to be the designated driver to ensure you and your friends have a sober ride home. Ensuring you have a designated driver can make all the difference in getting everyone home safely.

Always Wear Your Seat Belt

Seat belts save lives. When seat belts are used, there is a 45% reduction in the risk of a fatal injury to front-seat passenger vehicle occupants. Regardless of the length of the trip, make sure you and all your passengers wear seat belts at all times.

Be Extra Cautious Approaching Intersections

More than half of fatal and injury crashes occur at or near intersections. Approach intersections with caution, even if you have the right of way, and be vigilant for other drivers who may not be paying attention.


We Advocate for Car Accident Victims

fireworks in Downtown Los Angeles

If you or a loved one was injured in a 4th of July car accident, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced car accident attorney. At Alpha Accident Lawyers, we are dedicated to helping personal injury victims obtain justice and recover fair compensation for their losses. Our Los Angeles car accident lawyers maintain a 99% success rate and have won millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients.

Our experienced attorneys understand that car accident victims deal with costly medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress. We are here to support you through every step of the legal process and help you recover the compensation you deserve. Call our personal injury law firm today to schedule a free consultation.

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