Is Friday the 13th a deadly day to drive? (New Study)

There's a lot of superstition surrounding Friday the 13th, including the belief that Friday the 13th is a deadly day to drive. In reality, fear of driving on Friday the 13th is actually well founded considering there are an average of 100 traffic deaths on this one notoriously unlucky day. Regardless of the calendar day or how superstitious you are, you need to be prepared with the right car insurance coverage.

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Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and H...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Jul 22, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • The modern Friday the 13th superstition originated with the Last Supper
  • Over $800 million has reportedly been lost by the U.S. economy because of Friday the 13ths
  • Anxiety may play a role in supposed increase in Friday the 13th car accident claims

It’s an ominous number, one that haunts your sleep and makes you think twice about driving to work, going out to eat, and even buying things from the grocery store. For some reason, even though you reason it’s completely irrational, you can’t stop thinking about it. What is this superstition, and how does it affect your TGIF?

Well, you must know a little about it, since you’re reading this article. It’s all about that ugly, bad luck, harbinger kind of day — Friday the 13th. You might be wondering: Is Friday the 13th a deadly day to drive?

You might be reading this article holding your lucky charm or sitting in your fancy auto-pilot Tesla Model 3, reading on your tablet as the car does all the hard work for you. (Don’t try this; it’s not what the car’s built for.)

But one thing’s for certain: You want to know how Friday the 13th, when bad things happen, intersects with car insurance and driving (a thought: you might want liability auto coverage). That’s what we’re here for.

In this guide, we cover everything from the history behind the superstition to the deadliest days in America for driving. We’ll also look at how Friday the 13th stacks up to these deadly days to drive in terms of fatal crashes, dating all the way back 2004.

By the end, you’ll have a foundation of knowledge about all things Friday the 13th and driving. And you’ll know the most salient point: whether it’s safe for you and your loved ones to drive on this fateful, unlucky day.

Our advice for overcoming potential bad luck headed your way: Be prepared. As a driver, that means investing in car insurance. Our free online comparison tool makes it easy. Enter your ZIP code and you’ll be able to easily compare rates for your area tailored to your specific needs.

It’s time to get those lucky talismans out, light up those special incense candles, and charge your quartz in the moonlight. Bad luck can’t stop us now (we say as we’re crossing our fingers behind our backs). Let’s rock and roll.

Will Friday the 13th be dangerous for me?

It’s time for the big question: Is Friday the 13th a dangerous day to drive? Let’s start with the science first.

In his study Traffic Deaths and Superstition on Friday the 13th, Simo Näyhä reviewed cause-of-death data from 1971 to 1977 in Finland. From there, he looked at the rates of traffic deaths for all dates and compared them to traffic fatalites on Friday the 13th.

He also used a handy statistic called adjusted risk ratio to determine whether either gender had a higher risk of dying in traffic accidents on Friday the 13th than on other days.

His findings? Men had an adjusted risk ratio similar to other Fridays. However, women had a much higher adjusted risk ratio on Friday the 13th compared to other Fridays. This meant that women were more likely to die on a Friday the 13th than a typical Friday.

He concluded that, in fact, 38 percent of the traffic deaths of women on Friday the 13th were attributable to the day itself, as the percentage of female deaths rose significantly compared to men on that day.

Simo writes:

“People’s superstitions can interfere with their behavior in a way that can impair psychic and psychomotor functioning, especially in situations demanding concentration. Since situations of this kind typically occur while driving, one would expect to see an increase in traffic accidents on Friday the 13th, which is commonly believed to be an unlucky day.”

He also writes that a cause of the high adjusted risk ratio for women is that women might have more anxiety driving on Friday the 13th due to superstitions. The notion that anxiety plays a role in driving on Friday the 13th isn’t atypical, and anxiety can interfere with driving, as anyone who has tried to drive through an anxiety attack knows all too well.

That study seems to suggest that Friday the 13th poses a threat to women. But that was not the case in a study by Igor Radun and Heikki Summala, which used the population of Finland, again, but for the years 1989 to 2002. Their findings?

There is no consistent evidence that females have more car accidents on Friday the 13th based on deaths or crash statistics. Like Näyhä before them, Radun and Summala indicated that anxiety could still be a factor, which may have affected their data. They write:

“People who are anxious of ‘Black Friday’ may stay home, or at least avoid driving a car.”

Is Friday the 13th a dangerous day to drive? According to our research, not very. We consulted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for FARS data. FARS stands for Fatality Analysis Reporting System. It’s a listing of all the fatal crashes that have occurred across America. What did we find?

Friday the 13th is actually the 72nd most dangerous day to drive in the past 15 years. It is on par with the average number of deaths per Friday and averages about 8.5 more crashes than the average day. The values below are from the FARS data set and contain values from 2004 to 2018.

  • Friday the 13th average fatal crashes: 100.9
  • Average Friday fatal crashes: 100.9
  • Daily average for entire time frame: 92.4

Out of all Fridays, Friday the 13th was the 15th most dangerous day to drive. Out of all 13ths, Friday the 13th was the third most dangerous day, averaging about 12 fewer fatal crashes than Saturday, the leader, and 17 more than Thursday, the day in fourth place.

Friday the 13ths in May were the most dangerous, clocking in at an average of 138.5 fatal crashes, followed by June with an average of 124 fatal crashes. The Friday the 13th averages seem to be fairly spread out. It’s a steady digression from the Friday the 13th with the most fatal crashes to the one with the fewest.

Fortunately, March Friday the 13ths are fairly tame, with the most recent in 2015 having just 95 fatal crashes. The other March Friday the 13th in our data set comes from 2009, where there were just 83 fatal crashes. averaging just 89 total deaths from 2004 to 2018. In fact, March Friday the 13ths have the lowest average fatal crash totals compared to all but one month — 9.5 fatal crashes below the median of 98.5.

However, you could make the case that it is due a big day, as most months have at least one entry that is fairly high and the majority of Friday the 13ths have fatal crash totals above 100. There’s a possibility that this Friday the 13th will see a larger number of fatal accidents.

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What bad things have happened on Friday the 13th?

It might seem at first that Friday the 13th wouldn’t impact the economy at all. It’s just a day. But this day has consequences far beyond the average superstition.

According to Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C, $800 to $900 million is lost each year in the U.S. economy because people won’t engage in business on Friday the 13th the way they normally would.

Along those lines, there are reports that airlines take a hit on Friday the 13th because people won’t fly, train companies take a hit because people won’t ride, and small businesses suffer because people aren’t conducting business.

There are thoughts that people drive more cautiously, leading to anxiety-prone decisions, or that people won’t drive at all. Many people won’t even go out on Friday the 13th.

This can lead to missed work time, as people won’t go into work, costing their businesses and companies money. Even the people that do come in might not be as motivated as they typically are. This leads to lost productivity and a possible loss in revenue. And then there, of course, is the stock market.

On October Friday the 13th, 1989, a buyout deal involving the parent company of United Airlines crumbled, causing the Dow to tumble 7 percent. The NASDAQ dropped 3 percent. It was a mini-crash that, while not as serious as the biggest stock market crashes ever, was still enough to be given a nickname, Black Friday.

Since then, or perhaps before, stock traders have followed a typical pattern when it comes to trading on or around Friday the 13th. In general, traders will typically sell shares a day or two before Friday the 13th, lowering the overall price of stocks.

When traders see that nothing negative has happened on Friday the 13th, they’ll start buying stocks again, increasing the price. Multiple academic researchers have noted this pattern, calling it The Extended Friday the 13th Effect.

Horror Stories Surrounding Friday the 13th

While it might seem like bad things happen every day, there are some particularly bad things that have happened on Friday the 13th. These include a murder witnessed by over 30 people, a plane crashing in the Andes Mountains, and a cyclone blowing through a country and starting a civil war.

The murder of Kitty Genovese. Known in psychology textbooks as the event that inspired the Bystander Effect, Kitty Genovese was brutally beaten and murdered on March 13, 1964 by a killer wielding a hunting knife. She was attacked twice, with one person intervening verbally during the first and no one directly intervening during the second. The two attacks took over a half-hour and it was originally thought that there were over 30 witnesses to the murder.

As the New Yorker writes about one of the true villains of the story:

“Winston Moseley is a truly chilling character, because of his ability to be utterly calm and functional most of the time, even when describing to officials the horrifically violent acts he had performed on female strangers.”

The plane crash in the Andes Mountains. On October 13, 1972, a plane carrying a rugby team crashed in the Andes Mountains, killing 12 immediately, with six dying in the days after. The account is not just memorable because of the survival of much of the other team members (eight would later be lost in an avalanche) but because of the method of their survival: cannibalism.

As survivor Dr. Roberto Canessa writes in his book I Had To Survive: How A Plane Crash In The Andes Inspired My Calling To Save Lives:

“I felt like a man condemned to death, hoping against hope for something, anything, to stay his execution. That night I was unable to close my eyes. All I could think about, with terror in my head and heart, was the sheer walls of ice that lay between us and salvation.”

The event and the survivors’ portrayals inspired a film and companion documentary, both released in 1993. The film was based on a 1972 book titled Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors written by British novelist Piers Paul Read, and featured survivor Nando Parrado as a technical advisor for the film. The film was praised by some for maintaining the dignity of the characters in obvious difficult circumstances.

As for the documentary, it included interviews with the survivors as well as footage of the rescue. You can watch the documentary in the YouTube video below, with its interviews dubbed over in English for easy viewing.

The landing of the Bhola cyclone in present-day Bangladesh. Widely considered one of the most devastating natural disasters in history, the Bhola cyclone descended on (at that time) eastern Pakistan, overwhelming fishing villages, destroying crops, and killing at least half a million people with its surge.

The cyclone is remembered for its devastation and its social effects. It was the spark that started a civil war and gave Bangladesh its independence.

According to the Dhaka Tribune, a politician said at that time:

“I cannot find words adequate to describe the holocaust which the cyclone and tidal bore have left in their trail. Nor can I adequately convey in words the suffering and the misery of those who have survived.”

There are many other horrific incidents like those that occurred on Friday the 13th. Fortunately, no driving-related events on this supposedly cursed day have garnered this level of attention. However, some days, it turns out, are more dangerous to drive on than others.

The Deadliest Days to Drive All Year

If Friday the 13th isn’t the most dangerous day to drive, then what is? We’ve put together a list of the 72 deadliest days to drive according to statistics derived from the NHTSA.

Saturday the 1st was the worst day to drive for the 15-year period between 2004 and 2018. Saturdays, Sundays, and Fridays are the only days represented in the 72 deadliest days, which average 109.5 fatal crashes, about 17 higher than the average for all days.

Now, how does Friday compare to every other day of the week? In the bar graph below, you can see the average number of fatal car crashes (where at least one person died) for each day of the week during the same 15-year time frame.

As you can clearly see, Friday is worse than every other weekday by far, at 16 or more average fatal crashes:

View as image

All that said, what makes a day deadly to drive? A look at the common causes of traffic deaths can paint a picture. The most common causes of traffic deaths range from bad behavior to poor conditions. Even traffic can play a role.

The first? That lead foot. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that speeding contributed to over 9,600 deaths in 2018. The NSC writes:

“Excessive speeding reduces the amount of time the driver has to react in a dangerous situation to avoid a crash, increases vehicle stopping distance, and reduces the ability of road safety structures (such as guardrails, impact attenuators, crash cushions, median dividers, and concrete barriers) to protect vehicle occupants in a crash.”

Speeding is a minor form of reckless driving that can have serious consequences both legally and through fatal motor vehicle crashes. It is out of control driving that disrespects other people on the road and creates a dangerous situation, as seen in these videos about reckless drivers.

The second? Drunk driving. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) estimates that over 10,500 people were killed in an accident involving a drunk driver in 2018. MADD writes:

“The danger is real — and it can wreak life-changing devastation anytime, anywhere, in the blink of an eye. The destruction ripples out, impacting two out of three people in their lifetime.”

It’s important to stay safe in circumstances where drinking and driving might happen more than usual. Knowing which states are the most dangerous for drunk drivers can help as well. If you drive drunk, you face many legal consequences, along with the possibility of significantly harming another person.

And, of course, drunk driving has consequences for insurance as well. Often, someone convicted of a DUI will have their rates raised by $1,000 or higher or be labeled a high-risk driver and required to get an SR-22. This could get even more costly. A drunk driving conviction has even more consequences to insurance, such as causing the driver to be pushed out of the voluntary market.

Drunk driving, along with speeding, are the two largest causes of fatal accidents in the United States. As such, they dominate the discussion when it comes to the most dangerous days to drive.

Let’s look at the third and fourth causes.

The third? It’s something we’re all likely familiar with: nighttime driving. According to Pines Salomon Injury Attorneys, nighttime driving accounts for 40 percent of all fatal accidents, even though there is 60 percent less traffic on the roads. They note that sunset and sunrise are two of the most dangerous times, explaining:

“The problem is that while the sky is still well lit, the roads begin to get dark. This causes a disparity between light and dark and can cause vision problems for drivers.”

The fourth? Traffic. According to, traffic raises the risk of an accident due to numerous factors.

  • Drivers may seek to make the most of a slowdown and engage in distracting behaviors
  • People get mad at one another for cutting in front and other aggressive behaviors
  • Drivers may take chances they should not take as they rush and hurry to get to work or home on time

There is also distracted driving, which is a deadly habit and has legal consequences if you’re caught. It can also cause an increase in insurance rates if your insurance company finds out. Those are all general causes of traffic deaths, but what about the circumstances of each day, like weather conditions?

Factors like weather can make driving difficult. Storms, floods, tornadoes, and blizzards can all affect visibility or the traction of the tires when they meet the road. About 15 percent of all fatal crashes occur during bad weather. That’s why we have created a guide to help you know how to prepare for deadly conditions and to teach you how to drive safely in bad weather.

In addition to weather factors, celebrations like New Year’s Eve or Halloween can lead to more drivers who are impaired, increasing the dangers on the road. But there are some specific patterns within the dates of the month and days of the week as well. Let’s start with the deadliest days to drive, from the 1st through every calendar day up to 31.

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The Deadliest Days to Drive in the Month

When it comes to the dates of the month, you might not think there is a particularly dangerous time to drive. Those dates are scattered across almost all the days of the week in a 14-year period (the lone holdout being 31 on a Sunday) so everything should be generalized. Right?

Well, it turns out there is an interesting trend. And it comes at the beginning and end of the month.

Date of MonthAverage Fatal CrashesCompared to Average +/-% Difference
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The beginning and end of the month have a higher number of fatal crashes compared to the monthly average. At the beginning of the month, the first five days have significantly higher averages, while it starts to tail off on day six and seven.

  • 1st: +5.1 percent
  • 2nd: +1.8 percent
  • 3rd: +2.7 percent
  • 4th: +2.8 percent
  • 5th: +1.8 percent

The first five days have the highest averages of fatal crashes for all dates. A similar rise occurs on the 30th and 31st of the month with the 30th having on average 1.3 percent more deaths than a typical day of the month. The 31st has an average of 0.6 more.

There isn’t a clear explanation for the statistics. However, it is interesting to note that the police are generally out in force with speed guns at the beginning and end of the month. Although this may be due to the adage that some police officers want to get quotas done early or wait until late, it’s possible they know something specific about driving as well.

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The Deadliest Days to Drive in the Week

We know now that Friday the 13ths are on average not that dangerous, though the danger varies significantly by the month. The 72 worst days to drive are over the weekends, and the beginnings and ends of the months are more dangerous than the days in the middle.

What about the days of the week? The answer may not surprise you.

According to our data, drawn from the NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System, the most dangerous days to drive are those represented in the 72 most dangerous days: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. But which is the worst?

The answer is clear: Saturday. The most dangerous day of the week averages 117 fatal crashes per day, about 14 fatal crashes higher than the second most dangerous day.

What are the second and third most dangerous days? Those are also very clear: Sunday and Friday. There was an average of 103.4 fatal crashes on Sunday from 2004 to 2018, and an additional 100.9 on Friday.

Why is the weekend leading all days in fatal crashes? The answer is similar to what makes a day dangerous to drive, as seen in the two sections before. The days featured on that list were all over the weekend. However, the same categories — drunk driving, speeding, and traffic congestion — deserve a closer look at how they specifically impact the weekends.

Saturdays are big party days, with people drinking late into the night. This makes for dangerous and reckless driving when they hit the road — for the drunk drivers themselves and for everyone else on the road. The danger to pedestrians is, in fact, much higher on the weekends compared to the weekdays. BACtrack writes:

“Pedestrian deaths are also more likely to occur on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, when nearly half (49%) of all pedestrian fatalities occurred. Alcohol involvement, for both drivers and pedestrians, were reported in nearly half of all traffic crashes resulting in pedestrian deaths.”

The NHTSA writes that about one-third of all traffic deaths involve drunk drivers, with more than 10,000 people dying per year in crashes involving a drunk driver. In 2018, that number was 10,511. Then there was speeding. It is a significant problem over the weekend, as people are more likely to speed in free-flowing conditions, such as late at night.

When looking at the NHTSA statistics from 2004 to 2018, we found that speeding was implicated in 79,605 fatal crashes out of a total of 251,445. This amounts to 31.7 percent of all crashes. What is the average Monday through Thursday? 26.8 percent. This means that speeding accounted for nearly five percent more fatal crashes over the weekend compared to Monday through Thursday.

The third factor in why fatal crashes happen more often on weekends has to do with traffic. According to, Saturdays are the most dangerous day to drive due to the number of motorists on the road. They write:

“Many employees have the day off on Saturday, which means they are often spending more time running errands or driving to events.”

More people on the road generally leads to more accidents, as statistics show that rush hour (morning and nights) is the period where most accidents occur.

The rest of the days in the week are low in the average number of deaths compared to the weekend. It is feast or famine here, as the other four days average 85 fatal crashes or below, with the weekend having 100 or higher.

Day of the WeekAverage Fatal CrashesCompared to Average +/-Compared %
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The most dangerous days are by far the weekends and the safest days are by far over the week. Those are three explanations for this discrepancy, although there are likely more.

What is the history behind Friday the 13th?

Now we’re back to Friday the 13th — the superstition and its history. It all started with an unlucky dinner, around the time when BCE became CE. Twelve men were seated around a table, partaking in wine and whatever goodies the Romans had back in the day. The 13th man showed up and there was a sudden pause.

Little did they know it, the traitor had appeared.

That traitor was Judas Iscariot, who would later betray Jesus for a bag of gold. Jesus would then be executed on a Friday, creating the unlucky combination of Fridays and 13ths.

And, it turns out, the story doesn’t end with Christian mythology. In its counterpart, Norse mythology, a dinner for the gods is ruined when Loki, the 13th guest, shows up and throws the whole shindig into chaos. Afterward, the entire world is plunged into darkness. Even further, both Fridays and the number 13 have separate origins in what makes them unlucky.

That origin of the fear of the number 13, according to Vox, may go as far back as Ancient Greece, when the poet Hesiod wrote in his farmer’s almanac Works and Days:

“Avoid the thirteenth of the waxing month for beginning to sow”

But he did not say why. This is alleged to be the first reference in known history to a possible superstition around Friday the 13th, a superstition that would later grow, expanding to different countries, including England. There, Chaucer took on another superstition (about Fridays) and wrote in his Canterbury Tales:

“And on a Friday fell all this mischance.”

By the 19th century, the superstitions surrounding the number 13 were running amok to the point where buildings were omitting the 13th floor.

Eventually, a society called the Thirteen Club was created to debunk all these myths, with members supposedly walking under ladders to enter the meetings. Members included five presidents, one of whom was Theodore Roosevelt.

In the 20th century, scientists sought to prove whether Friday the 13th was an unlucky day or not. This led to articles supporting the notion that Friday the 13th was an unlucky day, and others debunking it.

The scientific term for fear of 13 is triskaidekaphobia. The word paraskevi adds the word Friday to that mix, with paraskevitriskaidekaphobia being the fear of Friday the 13th.

Late in the 20th century, horror movies took over, with the biggest one being, of course, Friday the 13th. The films, which star a saw-wielding hockey-masked killer, have grossed over $460 million worldwide from 1980 to the present day.

Ultimately, the fear has run the gamut from religion to numerology to hundreds of millions of dollars in Hollywood films. Some people still believe in the dangers of this day. Although driving may be safer than people think, there may be other causes of mischance and misfortune. For those, you need to be prepared.

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How to Survive Friday the 13th in 2020

All that said, Friday the 13th may bring misfortune to some. What do the experts have to say about surviving on this dangerous, dreadful day?

around the country expert graphic

The Roots of Paraskavedekatriaphobia

“It has a name: Paraskavedekatriaphobia.

In March, the 13th day falls on Friday, and for some it would be the day to spend in fear. The condition is called Paraskavedekatriaphobia. But you still need to live up to the day.

Today, for many of us, Friday the 13th is associated with some ancient mythical fear. In fact, the concept of an ‘unlucky day’ has gained popularity only recently.

Some say that the first bad Friday the 13th appeared in the biography of the Italian composer Gioachino Rossini. There, the journalist, wrote that if you consider the number ’13’ to be unlucky and Friday to be an unlucky day, then Rossini died on the most unlucky day, Friday, November 13th, 1868.

Often, though, the story of an ‘unlucky day’ is associated with the Templars. Allegedly on Friday, October 13, 1307, the French king Philip IV ordered the arrest of members of the Knights Templar, followed by brutal torture and executions. The story is old, unsupported by evidence, and became popular only after it was retold in Dan Brown ‘s book The Da Vinci Code.

Mathematically, of all the days of the week, the 13th day had the highest probability of falling exactly on Friday. Analyzing 4,800 months, the 13th falls on Friday 688 times—this is more often than the rest of the days of the week. But Thursday the 13th and Saturday the 13th are the least likely to occur.

In 2008, Dutch insurers noted that their clients contacted them on Friday the 13th far less frequently than other Fridays. They attribute this to the fact that people are more careful, reports The Mirror.

It is believed that more car accidents occur on this day, so if possible it is better to change to public transport, and even better to walk. In a 1993 study, British researchers refuted this superstition, proving that from 1990 to 1992 on the M25 highway on Friday the 13th, there were even fewer accidents than usual.

Rather than being fearful to drive, one might consider getting trained on a driving simulator to be prepared for what chance may bring you on the roads. You can experience a range of risky traffic situations and be able to avoid them, even on Friday the 13th. Our driving safety events run year-round to make safer drivers — novice and professional.”

Konstantin Sizov Friday the 13thKonstantin Sizov, MSE, is the Founder and CEO of Drive Square.
His Driving Simulation company reduces traffic deaths through education and training

It’s Simply Another Friday

These answers come from a successful dentist with practices in multiple cities. Here is his input on Friday the 13th and the superstition that follows from a dental perspective.

Should I cancel my Friday the 13th dental visit?

“I do not believe in the power of Friday the 13th. As a dentist, I think it’s my duty and it’s much better for my patients that I don’t. Imagine if I cancel your medical appointment because I’m afraid of driving to work on this day?

If some patients are superstitious and they prefer to organize the visit another day, no problem, but I have to drive to work, no matter the date.

What’s more, if I believe that it’s an unlucky day, not only driving but also taking a walk or using any other means of transport may be equally dangerous.

Self-fulfilling Prophecy

If you focus too much on the fact that it might be a bad, unlucky day, there’s a big chance that it will be. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it’s an issue rather for a psychologist than a dentist. Car accidents and fender-benders happen 365 days a year.

As a doctor, I have to be based on scientific evidence—both at work and in life. Unless it’s proven that the number of driving to work dentists’ on Friday 13th is larger than any other day, I’m planning to drive without fear.

Leave the pain until Monday?

From my experience, I don’t notice a lower amount of appointments set for that day, so I am guessing the majority of my patients also don’t consider it.

And what’s the most important — if you have a toothache, you are just setting yourself up for more pain and more serious infection if you postpone coming to the dentist for two or more days.

As a driver, I remember one thing: it’s simply another Friday. Friday is the day with the most traffic every week. This probably has a lot to do with higher fatality rates on Friday the 13th.”

mike gola friday the 13thDr. Mike Golpa, DDS, is the Director of G4, innovative implant technology
He has been a dentist for over 20 years. His practices are located in Texas, Nevada, and Virginia.

Nervous Drivers and the Need for Control

“Superstitions can be tricky. Some research from The University of Chicago shows that even when people confidently identify themselves as non-believers in superstitions, they sometimes can’t help themselves from thinking something bad will happen anyway in some ironic twist. So, for example, someone may be completely against any superstition, but if they get in a wreck on Friday the 13th, the thought would probably cross their mind.

Additionally, if someone is prone to superstitious thinking, they might be extra-nervous while they drive on Friday the 13th. It’s typically considered best practice to be cautious but relaxed while you drive. Being under-cautious can lead to an accident, but being too nervous can also be a contributing factor to a wreck.

It’s possible that a spike in nervous drivers could lead to a smaller spike in accidents on Friday the 13th. Why do people believe in superstitions like Friday the 13th in this day and age?

Psychologically speaking, it all comes down to control. The world can be scary and unpredictable, and a psychological yearning for control leads some people to believe in more digestible, easy to understand explanations like superstitions.

The thought that bad things can happen to good people is scary, but when you view it through the lens of a series of superstitions governing the universe, your world view may be less true but easier to understand.

We all want to avoid something bad happening, and really we are avoiding bad things in some way at all times, which could be exhausting. But if you convince yourself that bad things are only likely to happen on Friday the 13th or after a black cat crosses your path, then you can rest easy more often.”

Jake McKenzie Friday the 13thJake McKenzie is the Content Manager at Auto Accessories Garage.
Auto Accessories Garage is a family-owned retailer of automotive parts and accessories.

Do superstitions affect driving?

Superstitions are nothing new to driving. According to The News Wheel, a publication that detailed all the latest automotive news, driving superstitions can range from the practical, like throwing coins in the backseat (likely originating in New York City with its over 30 toll roads) to the apropos and metaphorical, like holding one’s breath while going under a tunnel.

But how do these relate to the superstition of Friday the 13th?

Researchers writing an article in the New York Times suggest that superstitions can actually help us by changing the underlying belief around a situation.

Superstitions give a certain measure of (perceived) control over that situation, such as when a person knocks on wood to counter a jinx. This may be one reason that superstitions are created.

People with Friday the 13th superstitions may also use certain rituals or take measures to protect themselves while driving or going about their business. This includes wearing talismans or employing a lucky charm to help them get through the day.

This may cause their underlying beliefs to change, enabling them to be more confident and therefore decreasing the number of accidents on the road. And if there is a particular cause for more accidents on Friday the 13th, it is likely that anxiety plays a role.

Final Thoughts on Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th. It strikes fear into the hearts of many, derision in the eyes of others, and an amused impartial view from those in the middle. It is associated with betrayal (looking at you, Judas), the arrests of many Knights Templar, and numerology.

Strange events have happened on Friday the 13th. The murder of Kitty Genovese, the bombing of Buckingham Palace, and a cyclone in Bangladesh have all given credence to the notion that Friday the 13th is a frightening, unlucky day.

What does this mean for driving? Really, not much. Friday the 13th is actually not even the most deadly Friday and is right at the average for total fatal crashes compared to other days. Academic research is mixed. However, the NHTSA data tells no lies.

Of course, for some people, this will not mean much. Superstitions are there to give us some level of (mental) control over a situation. A ritual we do, a belief we have, even the motion we associate with a thought can give us comfort that a deadly situation will not happen to us. And sometimes it doesn’t.

These superstitions and the rituals we have can make us more confident, giving us the ability to handle situations that would normally cause problems and relieving the anxiety that could hamper performance. This may be the case while pitching in a playoff game, while preparing for a job interview, or, yes, while driving.

Whatever you think of Friday the 13th, the best thing you can do is employ safe driving practices. This is especially important during the weekend, when there are significantly more fatal crashes, and at night when there are more drunk drivers.

These include driving defensively, always yielding the right of way, and doing maintenance on your car. Also, put the cellphone down and wait to send that text or even answer that call until you reach your destination.

Knowing the area is important too, and whether you do or don’t, staying aware is key. Avoid distractions — including daydreaming, eating while driving, and reprimanding your children in the backseat.

All of those practices can keep you safe on the road and increase the likelihood of an accident-free trip, on Friday the 13th or any other day.

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Safe Driving Tips

After all this talk about the most dangerous days to drive, you might be wondering, what are some of the ways you can alleviate your stress, other than having a lucky talisman or ritual for superstition? One way: better and safer driving. Here are some safe driving tips.

  • Stay Alert: Actively pay attention to your actions and those of the drivers around you.
  • Avoid Assumption: Don’t assume what other drivers are going to do.
  • Use Turn Signal: Always use your turn signals.
  • Don’t Gun Yellow Lights: Remember that the intent of a yellow light is to notify drivers to slow down.
  • Don’t Drive Distracted: It is never acceptable to drive distracted when operating a motor vehicle.
  • Obey Speed Limits: Stick with the speed limit.
  • Have Patience: Drivers rushing from Point A to Point B cause many accidents.

Other tips include sharing the road properly and conducting regular vehicle maintenance, such as taking steps to make sure your car is in good working condition. There are also plenty of videos that help with defensive driving techniques, such as this one presented by Bright Side.

You might also want to read more about how technology is making driving safer by the year and could result in much fewer traffic deaths in the future.

Of course, it never hurts to have a lucky talisman, scratch your new car before driving, throw coins in the back seat, raise your feet when going over railroad tracks, hold your breath when going through a tunnel, or not drive at all. Some superstitions can make us more confident, enabling us to perform well, even with driving.


For this study, we looked at data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). The data came from its Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which counts the number of fatal crashes that happen over various intervals of time.

Using the NHTSA’s Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS), we collected data from 2004 to 2018, the largest possible sample according to the CRSS. We ended up with over 505,711 points of data.

From there, we broke it down according to five factors. There was the number of fatal crashes collected using the FARS option on the CRSS. The years were between 2004 and 2018. The months were January through December. All days of the week were included. So were all days of the month (1-31).

All of the fatal crashes from 2004 to 2018, broken down by year, date, day of the week, and month. From there, we used a system of compiling and averaging to determine the most dangerous day of the week, the most dangerous data, and, of course, how dangerous Friday the 13th was.

Friday the 13th was determined to not be that dangerous at all, coming in as the 72th most dangerous day to drive out of all date/day of the week combinations.

There were clear trends in the data between the most dangerous days of the week, with weekends being significantly more dangerous. There were also clear trends within the dates of the month, with the beginnings and ends of the month having an increased number of fatal crashes.

These trends were found by using the compiling and averaging technique to find the fatal crashes per day/date, then producing percentages based on the average or median number within the sample set. As such, the most dangerous day and the least dangerous day were determined, along with an increased number of data points that combined the various variables.

It is important to note that by looking at the entire country, inconsistencies between states were eliminated and with such a large sample size, outliers were eliminated in the statistics. This is similar to methodologies used in two of our other studies:

We hope you learned something from our study about this day which is surrounded by fear and superstition. Sometimes the cold, hard facts are scary, but they have their benefits. A little healthy fear can save your life by inspiring you to be more careful on the roads.

Are you ready to protect your loved ones and your financial investments? Find the best car insurance coverage now. Simply plug your ZIP code into our free quote tool and compare the best coverage options in your area.



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Average Fatal Wrecks Per Day 2004-2018
Average Fatal Wrecks Per Day 2004-2018