CBS News reports that Memorial Day weekend is the "deadliest holiday for car accidents," followed by Labor Day and July 4 in the second and third slots, respectively. Citing statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Jerry Edgerton reported a yearly 312-fatality average on Memorial Day weekend over 2011-2015. This doesn't count the many people who are injured in wrecks over the holiday.
What's behind this deadliest holiday?
Drunk driving and texting while driving are the oft-cited culprits, and while these may indeed cause many fatal car accidents, the main contributing factor may be more benign: There are simply more drivers on the road on holiday weekends, which increases the risk of a crash.
Edgerton quotes AAA executive Bill Sutherland:
"The expected spike in Memorial Day traffic mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year. Higher confidence has led to more consumer spending. Many Americans are choosing to allocate their extra money on travel this Memorial Day."
Three tips to help you stay safe this weekend:
There may be nothing you can do about more cars on the roads this weekend, but you still have plenty of good choices to make in terms of your own driving. These include:
- Edgerton doesn't cite any evidence for this tip, but he asserts that texting/distraction is more dangerous than impaired driving, so put the phone down while behind the wheel.
- Of course, while we're on the topic, it makes sense to warn against driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Keep your speed reasonable. Texting and intoxication gets all the attention, but plain old speeding likely causes more wrecks than we'd care to admit.