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Which States Have the Deadliest Rush Hour?

How Deadly is Rush Hour in the U.S.?

Rush hour is the time of day when traffic is at its heaviest, typically as people drive to and from work.  Despite the rise of remote work and the substantial decrease in traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans still commute daily.  As more and more companies announce plans to return to the office, road congestion and traffic patterns have begun to move closer to pre-pandemic levels.  According to the transportation analytics firm INRIX, the average motorist spent 51 hours in traffic in 2022 – that’s 15 hours more than in 2021.

While gridlock during rush hour can be frustrating and costly, how does it impact traffic safety?   GOLDLAW, a West Palm Beach Injury Law Firm, examined 2021 fatal crash data from NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System to find out.

Key Findings

Key Findings - Traffic Deaths During Rush Hour

Rush hour is bimodal in the United States – consisting of a morning and evening period.  In this study, rush hour is defined as 6:00 am to 9:00 am and 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

One in four U.S. traffic deaths occurred during rush hour, taking the lives of nearly 11,000 people.   With nearly twice as many traffic fatalities, the evening period is considerably more deadly than the morning.

Alaska had the deadliest rush hour of any state in the U.S., accounting for 37 percent of all traffic deaths.

Motorists in New Hampshire were least likely to die during rush hour, where only 19 percent of fatal crashes occurred during that period.

Rush hour crashes account for nearly 30 percent of all traffic deaths in the 10 states with the deadliest rush hours.  That number is just 22 percent for the 10 safest states.

States with the deadliest rush hour periods

States with largely rural populations and less interstate traffic congestion had disproportionately deadlier rush hour periods when compared to states with more traffic and larger urban populations

While it may sound counterintuitive, the more traffic a state has, the less deadly its rush hour is.  In fact, six of the ten states with the safest rush hour were among the worst in terms of interstate traffic congestion.

[Map] Which States Have the Deadliest Rush Hour? Where Does Your State Rank?

The map below is interactive, hover over each state to reveal more information about it’s rush hour period.  Rank and color are determined by the percentage of crashes that occurred during the rush hour periods.

 

Below, we ranked the states by the percentage of fatal collisions during rush hour periods.  Ties were broken by total rush hour crashes.

#51. New Hampshire

19% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
118 total traffic deaths / 23 rush hour deaths
8 during morning rush hour / 15 during evening rush hour

#50. Connecticut

21% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
298 total traffic deaths / 63 rush hour deaths
20 during morning rush hour / 43 during evening rush hour

#49. New Jersey

21% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
699 total traffic deaths / 148 rush hour deaths
59 during morning rush hour / 89 during evening rush hour

#48. District of Columbia

22% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
41 total traffic deaths / 9 rush hour deaths
3 during morning rush hour / 6 during evening rush hour

#47. Maryland

22% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
561 total traffic deaths / 125 rush hour deaths
34 during morning rush hour / 91 during evening rush hour

#46. New York

22% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
1,157 total traffic deaths / 260 rush hour deaths
87 during morning rush hour / 173 during evening rush hour

#45. Illinois

23% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
1,334 total traffic deaths / 301 rush hour deaths
100 during morning rush hour / 201 during evening rush hour

#44. Nebraska

23% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
221 total traffic deaths / 50 rush hour deaths
21 during morning rush hour / 29 during evening rush hour

#43. California

23% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
4,285 total traffic deaths / 980 rush hour deaths
350 during morning rush hour / 630 during evening rush hour

#42. Massachusetts

24% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
417 total traffic deaths / 98 rush hour deaths
30 during morning rush hour / 68 during evening rush hour

#41. Wisconsin

24% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
620 total traffic deaths / 147 rush hour deaths
44 during morning rush hour / 103 during evening rush hour

#40. Texas

24% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
4,498 total traffic deaths / 1069 rush hour deaths
456 during morning rush hour / 613 during evening rush hour

#39. Florida

24% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
3,738 total traffic deaths / 897 rush hour deaths
336 during morning rush hour / 561 during evening rush hour

#38. Tennessee

24% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
1,327 total traffic deaths / 320 rush hour deaths
97 during morning rush hour / 223 during evening rush hour

#37. Montana

24% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
239 total traffic deaths / 58 rush hour deaths
19 during morning rush hour / 39 during evening rush hour

#36. Hawaii

24% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
94 total traffic deaths / 23 rush hour deaths
6 during morning rush hour / 17 during evening rush hour

#35. Minnesota

25% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
488 total traffic deaths / 120 rush hour deaths
52 during morning rush hour / 68 during evening rush hour

#34. Virginia

25% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
973 total traffic deaths / 242 rush hour deaths
87 during morning rush hour / 155 during evening rush hour

#33. Ohio

25% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
1,354 total traffic deaths / 343 rush hour deaths
112 during morning rush hour / 231 during evening rush hour

#32. Arizona

25% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
1,180 total traffic deaths / 299 rush hour deaths
111 during morning rush hour / 188 during evening rush hour

#31. Louisiana

26% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
972 total traffic deaths / 249 rush hour deaths
92 during morning rush hour / 157 during evening rush hour

#30. South Carolina

26% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
1,198 total traffic deaths / 309 rush hour deaths
105 during morning rush hour / 204 during evening rush hour

#29. Pennsylvania

26% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
1,230 total traffic deaths / 323 rush hour deaths
117 during morning rush hour / 206 during evening rush hour

#28. Georgia

26% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
1,797 total traffic deaths / 476 rush hour deaths
182 during morning rush hour / 294 during evening rush hour

#27. Washington

27% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
670 total traffic deaths / 179 rush hour deaths
55 during morning rush hour / 124 during evening rush hour

#26. Oklahoma

27% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
762 total traffic deaths / 204 rush hour deaths
83 during morning rush hour / 121 during evening rush hour

#25. New Mexico

27% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
481 total traffic deaths / 130 rush hour deaths
51 during morning rush hour / 79 during evening rush hour

#24. Wyoming

27% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
110 total traffic deaths / 30 rush hour deaths
10 during morning rush hour / 20 during evening rush hour

#23. Indiana

27% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
932 total traffic deaths / 255 rush hour deaths
100 during morning rush hour / 155 during evening rush hour

#22. Alabama

27% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
983 total traffic deaths / 270 rush hour deaths
86 during morning rush hour / 184 during evening rush hour

#21. Michigan

28% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
1136 total traffic deaths / 314 rush hour deaths
96 during morning rush hour / 218 during evening rush hour

#20. Colorado

28% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
691 total traffic deaths / 192 rush hour deaths
70 during morning rush hour / 122 during evening rush hour

#19. Kansas

28% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
424 total traffic deaths / 118 rush hour deaths
53 during morning rush hour / 65 during evening rush hour

#18. Missouri

28% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
1,016 total traffic deaths / 283 rush hour deaths
90 during morning rush hour / 193 during evening rush hour

#17. Arkansas

28% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
693 total traffic deaths / 195 rush hour deaths
79 during morning rush hour / 116 during evening rush hour

#16. Nevada

28% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
385 total traffic deaths / 109 rush hour deaths
41 during morning rush hour / 68 during evening rush hour

#15. Iowa

28% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
356 total traffic deaths / 101 rush hour deaths
41 during morning rush hour / 60 during evening rush hour

#14. Idaho

28% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
271 total traffic deaths / 77 rush hour deaths
31 during morning rush hour / 46 during evening rush hour

#13. Mississippi

29% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
772 total traffic deaths / 221 rush hour deaths
100 during morning rush hour / 121 during evening rush hour

#12. Utah

29% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
328 total traffic deaths / 94 rush hour deaths
31 during morning rush hour / 63 during evening rush hour

#11. North Dakota

29% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
101 total traffic deaths / 29 rush hour deaths
10 during morning rush hour / 19 during evening rush hour

#10. Kentucky

29% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
806 total traffic deaths / 232 rush hour deaths
74 during morning rush hour / 158 during evening rush hour

#9. North Carolina

29% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
1,663 total traffic deaths / 482 rush hour deaths
162 during morning rush hour / 320 during evening rush hour

#8. Oregon

29% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
599 total traffic deaths / 176 rush hour deaths
70 during morning rush hour / 106 during evening rush hour

#7. Maine

29% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
153 total traffic deaths / 45 rush hour deaths
12 during morning rush hour / 33 during evening rush hour

#6. West Virginia

30% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
280 total traffic deaths / 84 rush hour deaths
21 during morning rush hour / 63 during evening rush hour

#5. South Dakota

30% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
148 total traffic deaths / 45 rush hour deaths
16 during morning rush hour / 29 during evening rush hour

#4. Vermont

31% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
74 total traffic deaths / 23 rush hour deaths
6 during morning rush hour / 17 during evening rush hour

#3. Delaware

32% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
136 total traffic deaths / 43 rush hour deaths
12 during morning rush hour / 31 during evening rush hour

#2. Rhode Island

33% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
63 total traffic deaths / 21 rush hour deaths
4 during morning rush hour / 17 during evening rush hour

#1. Alaska

37% of traffic deaths occurred during rush hour
67 total traffic deaths / 25 rush hour deaths
8 during morning rush hour / 17 during evening rush hour

Data Sources and Takeaways

This study is based on fatal crash data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the year 2021.  While fatal collisions are more likely to occur during rush hour in some states, a deadly car accident can happen at any place, at any time.  Motorists should prioritize safe driving habits no matter what time of day they are in their vehicles.  To do so, drivers can:

  • Never operate your vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Avoid distractions like texting, eating, or talking on a handheld mobile phone.
  • Obey posted speed limits, traffic signs, and signals.
  • Properly maintain your vehicle including brakes and tires.
  • Keep calm and avoid aggressive driving or road rage behaviors.
  • Take breaks if you are tired or drowsy
  • Watch out for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.

You can’t completely remove the risk that comes with motor vehicle travel, but you can minimize it by driving safely and being aware of potential hazards around you.