Winter Driving Statistics

2020 icy road statistics 

In November of 2019, The Zebra conducted a nation-wide survey to better understand the behaviors and attitudes of American drivers during the winter.

  • 35% of all respondents claim that the ice scraper most tool valuable to keep in a winter driving safety kit. Only 15% of people responded that a cell phone is the most valuable.
  • Everyone knows about driving safety, but not so much seatbelt safety. 54.6% of respondents said to put the seatbelt around the outside of a child’s winter coat. AAA has publically disputed this.
  • 18.1% of Gen Z’s (ages 18-24 year old) respondents believe that you can suspend your car insurance temporarily for the winter. This belief is categorically incorrect.
  • 2.2% of people from the Northeast did not know it’s not safe to drive cruise control on slippery roads while, 7.9% of people from the South lacked the same knowledge.
  • All respondents 65 years and older knew never to slam on the brakes to regain control of a sliding car.
  • 17.3% of young female respondents (ages 18-24) believe you slam on the brakes to regain control of a sliding car.

Pie chart displaying tools to keep in car during winter


More winter driving statistics 

  1. Winter driving deaths statistics 
  2. Winter driving statistics by state 
  3. Weather condition statistics 
  4. Road condition statistics 
  5. Safe driving tips 
  6. Temporary winter car insurance 


Winter car accident fatalities

The following statistics are taken from USDOT, FHWA, NHTSA, and the Auto Insurance Center.

  • Each year, an average of 1,836 deaths and 136,309 injuries are attributed to conditions on icy and snowy roads.
  • Icy road fatalities account for more deaths than all other weather hazards combined (3.6 times more). 
  • About 3,200 Americans died in motor vehicle accidents because of snow, freezing rain, sleet, or ice in the years 2011 to 2015.
  • Over 1,200 people died in wintertime motor vehicle accidents in 2013.
  • USA Today found the deadliest times of day for winter car accidents in 2015: 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. According to the report, Saturday was the deadliest day (286 deaths), but Friday was a close second (197 deaths).
  • According to a study done by the FHWA, non-fatal injuries and property damage incidents increase significantly when it snows, but fatal crashes decline.


Winter driving statistics by state

  • Ohio consistently ranks as the state with the most winter driving fatalities, averaging 86 deaths per year. 
  • According to Ice Road Safety, the Midwest and areas around the Great Lakes see the most snowy/icy road deaths on average. The states with the most average deaths are:
    • Michigan
    • Pennsylvania
    • Indiana
    • New York
  • Surprisingly, Texas ranks as the eighth deadliest state for wintertime vehicle accidents, according to the Auto Insurance Center. While certain northern cities in Texas (like Dallas) only see about 2 inches of snow or year, the state deals with many icy road deaths each year.
  • The following statistics are taken from Ice Road Safety. Pennsylvania had the most icy-road-fatalities between 2009 and 2010. Wisconsin and Tennessee had the least fatalities for that same period:


New York14


Weather condition statistics

Buzzstream News and the Weather Channel have been used here as additional resources.

  • Every year since 1995, winter snowstorms cost the country $1.2 billion and cause about 4% of all motor vehicle crashes in the US.  
  • Slushy or snowy pavement causes a 30% to 40% speed reduction on major roads. 
  • Ice, sleet, and snow on roads injure over 116,000 a year. 
  • According to the FHWA, the first snowfall of the year is significantly more dangerous than following snowfalls.
  • In addition to reduced visibility, winter storms cause “black ice,” which is known as a very thin layer of ice on top of roads, making driving in these storms very dangerous and unpredictable. 


Winter road condition statistics

The following data is compiled mostly from the Federal Highway Administration. 

  • Almost half a million car accidents each year are due to winter storms, wet road conditions, and general bad weather. 
  • According to the American Automobile Association, there are more than 2,000 winter road deaths. 
  • Heavy rain, thick fog, or consistent snow can reduce driver visibility almost instantaneously. Heavy snow specifically can slow traffic speeds more than 60% of their regular speed limit. 
  • 74% of all weather-related car accidents are due to wet roads. Of this percentage, sleet and snow cause 13%, while only 3% are related to foggy conditions.


Winter driving safety tips

  1. Always carry an emergency case full of supplies in case of an emergency. Consider adding these items to your safety supplies:
    • Jumper cables
    • Blankets
    • Ice scraper
    • Kitty litter
    • A cellphone
  2. Check your car’s brakes, battery, lights, tires, and seatbelts before you leave for a long winter drive. 
  3. When preparing a child for a winter drive, buckle them into car seats and seat belts without winter coats first, then you can tuck a blanket around them, lay their jackets on their laps, or have them wear it backwards. Seat belts are meant to be snug against the body.

For more safe driving tips during dangerous weather condictions, check out this resource for winter weather safety


Temporary winter car insurance

If you choose to stop driving your car for the winter months to avoid the dangerous conditions outside, you may be tempted to cancel your insurance temporarily, or simplypausethe coverage. However, you can’t actually do that. Due to the way your state’s vehicle registration and insurance works, if you drop your coverage, you could face a very significant fine. However, there are two things you can do to prevent paying full price for your car insurance:

  1. Drop all coverage to comprehensive with storage coverage.
  2. Reduce your coverage level.

If you drop your physical coverage (comprehensive and collision), here is what your premium may look like:

Coverage LevelAverage Annual PremiumMonthly Premium
Liability Only$672$56
$500 Deductible$1,427$119
$1,000 Deductible$1,268$106

For more information on temporary winter car insurance, check out our guide.


FAQs about automobile deaths 

How many car deaths occur in the U.S. each year?

It is estimated that around 39,000 people die every year in motor vehicle crashes within the United States. Globally, this number is about 1.25 million deaths per year. 

How many automobile deaths were there in 2019?

About 38,800 fatalities in 2019 were attributed to car crashes within the United States. 

How many people die in car accidents every day?

Based on 2019 data, there are an average of 106 deaths per day due to automobile crashes. 

How many people died in car accidents in 2018 in the U.S.?

39,404 deaths occured in 2018 due to car crashes, this number decreased 2% in 2019. 



Ice Road Safety





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Taylor Covington LinkedIn

An “everyday expert," Taylor researches the finer points of insurance, technology, and personal finance. She is also a frequent contributor to home and lifestyle publications. In her hometown city of Austin, Texas, she can be found reading at Half Priced Books, or eating the world's greatest pizza at Via 313.