Memorial Day Weekend: the Deadliest U.S. Holiday for Car Accidents
While all holiday weekends carry an increased risk of car accident fatalities, Memorial Day weekend stands out as the deadliest. In fact, drivers and passengers are four times as likely to die in a traffic accident over the Memorial Day weekend as over a regular weekend; according to data collected by the personal finance website ValuePenguin.com this spring. They looked at traffic fatalities on all major U.S. holidays using statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and found that Memorial Day weekend had the highest average fatality rate with 312 fatal accidents per year between 2011 and 2015. Labor Day weekend and the Fourth of July weekend didn’t fare much better with an average of 308 and 307 fatalities per year respectively. Of all the individual days around big summer holidays, the most dangerous day was the Fourth of July.
Where are the deadliest roads on holiday weekends?
The roads in the Northeast between Washington, D.C. and New York have a high rate of fatal accidents on holiday weekends as well as regular weekends.
Houston, Texas and Los Angeles, California shared the distinction as the deadliest holiday weekend city in the study.
How to reduce your car accident risk this Memorial Day Weekend
The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that 39.3 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles over the 2017 Memorial Day weekend, the most since 2005. Of that number, about 88 percent will be driving. With so many cars on the road, it is imperative for drivers to be extra careful to avoid an accident. The National Safety Council (NSC) found that over the last decade, the Memorial Day holiday weekend has averaged an 11.5 percent increase in traffic fatalities compared to similar non-holiday periods. The council estimates approximately 450 traffic fatalities and another 45,000 “medically consulted injuries” will result over this Memorial Day weekend.
Driving safety tips:
- Avoid distracted driving; especially using your cell phone. If you need to communicate with friends or family have a passenger send the message or pull over.
- Leave plenty of time to reach your destination.
- Make sure everyone in the vehicle is using safety belts and children are in appropriate child seats or booster seats.
- Do not drive when very fatigued.
- Do not drive impaired by drugs or alcohol. Assign a designated driver or arrange to sleep at your location if you become intoxicated.
- If possible, drive early in the morning when the sun is up but before the worst of the traffic begins.
- Do not engage in aggressive driving; if someone tail gates you, pull over and let them pass.
- Keep a four second space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you on the freeway.
- Follow speed limits and traffic signals.
- Drive defensively: keep an eye out for cars running red lights or driving erratically and stay out of their way if possible.
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