While Memorial Day heralds the start of the summer season and is a popular weekend for parties and get-togethers, it is also among the most dangerous holidays when it comes to auto accidents. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that about 409 people may be killed and 47,000 seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents in the United States during the Memorial Day weekend this year.
The number of fatalities is expected to be 12 times higher than the average number of deaths, 364, that occurred in the past six years. The three-day holiday begins at 6 p.m. Friday, May 26, and ends at 11:59 p.m., Monday, May 29. These holiday injury and fatality estimates are part of a nationwide upward trend. Traffic accident fatalities increased 6 percent in 2016 and 14 percent in 2014, which is the steepest two-year jump since 1964, according to the NSC.
Safety Tips for Travelers
There are a number of steps travelers can take in order to be safe this Memorial Day weekend. Here are a few tips:
- Take your time to get to your destination. Leave earlier than usual. Assume that you are going to be stuck in traffic with aggressive and frustrated drivers.
- Increase following distances. Stop and go traffic can increase the likelihood of a rear-end collision. Increase the distance between you and vehicle ahead so you have enough time if you need to make an evasive maneuver.
- Never drink and drive. Alcohol is often a part of many Memorial Day celebrations. If you do plan to consume alcohol, do not drive. Designate a sober driver to take you home or plan to stay over.
- Remember to wear your seatbelt at all times. This is even more important during holidays because there is an increased risk of accidents. Make sure you place your children in appropriate infant or booster seats.
- Slow down. Follow the speed limit or drive at a speed that is safe, given the traffic, weather and roadway conditions. As speed increases, the risk of traumatic injury increases as well.
- Do not drive distracted. Put away all electronic devices. Map your route before you leave so you are not tempted to look at your GPS device when you drive. If possible turn off your cell phone when you drive or give it to your passengers.
Get enough rest before you leave on your road trip. Fatigued driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving.