We’ve had a beautiful May in the Pacific Northwest this year and that tends to get people out and planning to get together with friends and family. On holiday weekends like Memorial Day, thousands of barbeques and parties get planned all over the country and that means more cars on the roads as people travel to and from their destinations. Sadly, whenever there are more cars on the road combined with holiday drinking car accidents and traffic fatalities increase. This Memorial Day period*, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 469 people may die on U.S. roads. In addition, they estimate that 53,400 people will seek medical care for injuries they sustain in crashes over the holiday weekend.
*Memorial Day is always observed on the last Monday in May but the holiday period is a 3.25-day weekend that begins Friday evening and runs through Monday. In 2023, the Memorial Day weekend extends from 6 p.m. Friday, May 26 to 11:59 p.m. Monday, May 29.
If you or a loved one is injured in a Memorial Day accident because of the reckless or negligent behavior of another driver, you are entitled to a car accident settlement that covers your medical bills, property damage, disability, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If a fatality occurs, funeral expenses, loss of services and other damages may also be recovered. Please contact a local car accident lawyer who can assess your accident and discuss your legal rights.
How does the NSC calculate the risks of traveling by car over the Memorial Day holiday?
In order to get the most accurate estimate possible, NSC compares the holiday to other periods of similar length during the weeks immediately before and after the Memorial Day weekend. Fatality data from FARS for 1995 to 2021 for comparable weekends shows an increase in traffic deaths on Memorial Day with the average number of traffic deaths during Memorial Day over the last six years 6.3 percent higher than the average number of traffic deaths during the comparison periods.
How does NSC reach its traffic fatalities estimate?
While an estimated number is never going to be 100 percent accurate, there is a 90 percent confidence interval for the estimate of traffic deaths this holiday weekend. While the estimated deaths are 469, this number falls within an estimated range of 391 to 553. Analysts recognize that the confidence interval cannot factor in changes to behavior that began during the pandemic. Unfortunately, reckless driving behaviors such as drunk driving and speeding have increased since 2000.
Factors that increase deaths on Memorial Day weekend
The biggest factor that contributes to increased traffic fatalities on Memorial Day weekend is a higher incidence of impaired driving.
In 2021, alcohol-impaired fatalities (involving blood-alcohol content of 0.08 g/dL or higher) represented 31 percent of the total traffic fatalities. During the 2021 Memorial Day period, 40 percent of fatalities involved a drunk driver – a nine percent increase over the regular percentage.
The other major factor that contributes to Memorial Day accident fatalities is seat belt usage.
Based on the projected number of vehicle occupants who will wear seat belts, the NSC estimates that 169 lives may be saved this Memorial Day holiday period. On top of this, if everyone wore a seat belt another 118 lives could be saved.
What are Memorial Day traffic fatalities compared to other holidays?
The NSC also compares the Memorial Day holiday to other holiday periods by using an average fatality per day rate. Overall, the Memorial Day holiday and the summer holidays (Independence Day and Labor Day) have higher average fatality rates per day compared to the fall and winter holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day).
Seek the help of a car accident lawyer
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!