Traffic on the weekend of Memorial Day is deadlier than any other weekend throughout the year. CBS News reports that between 2011 and 2015, Memorial Day has seen an average of 312 deaths per year.
Are you surprised?
Let’s look at the causes behind these accidents and what you can do to avoid an accident this Memorial Day weekend.
Why Summer Driving Is Deadly
When you look at the data, it’s not too surprising that Memorial Day would be the deadliest holiday for car accidents.
First, there are more drivers on the road around Memorial Day. People take the long weekend to go on vacation or drive to see their families. In fact, AAA estimated that more than 38 million drivers hit the road in 2017—the highest number since 2005. Of all the people traveling Memorial Day weekend, around 88 percent elect to drive.
With so much more traffic, drivers are likelier to experience a car accident. That’s simply because there are more opportunities to collide with another car!
In addition to the increased traffic, there are several other factors that contribute to the rise in car accidents. During the summer, there are more teen drivers and more pedestrian/bicycle traffic on the road. Good weather can also lull drivers into a false sense of security.
Teen drivers are notoriously accident-prone: teen drivers are known to speed, follow too closely, drive aggressively, fail to wear their seat belt, and text while driving. As a result, they are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash, and car crashes are actually the leading cause of teen deaths. With so many inexperienced teen drivers on the road on Memorial Day weekend (as well as the rest of the summer), it’s no wonder that crashes happen.
As the weather warms up in the summer months, pedestrians and bicyclists use the road more often. The increase in these types of traffic can contribute to accidents because vehicular drivers are unused to sharing the road.
Finally, it’s possible that summer’s good weather might contribute to traffic collisions. When it is snowing or raining, many drivers are prompted to slow down and drive in a more defensive manner. When the sun is shining, however, quite a few drivers feel comfortable putting the pedal to the metal.
Memorial Day weekend may be the deadliest holiday of the year for car accidents, but the rest of the summer isn’t that much safer: the deadliest single day of the year is July 4, with an average of 308 fatalities between 2011 and 2015. In that same time period, Labor Day weekend saw 308 deaths.
What You Can Do to Stay Safe
Having read about the dangers of driving this Memorial Day weekend, you might feel apprehensive about your upcoming road trip.
Fortunately, there’s still time to prepare and make the trip a safe one. We recommend following the helpful advice below.
Be flexible with your plans.
Traffic will be the worst at the beginning and end of Memorial Day weekend, when everyone is heading out and returning home. If possible, push your plans a day forward or backward. You’ll miss a great deal of the traffic that way.
Go against the crowd.
If you can, try to avoid traffic by avoiding the common destination hot spots. Not only will you beat traffic and stay safer, you’ll also get to enjoy a family vacation without unbearable crowds. (This tip won’t work for everyone: if you’re visiting family at their home, you can’t change your destination.)
Get a last-minute deal.
Of course, the best way to avoid traffic is to stay off the road altogether. Many airlines offer last-minute deals on unsold tickets. You’ll get to your destination faster and with less risk. (Believe it or not, flying is actually far safer than driving: the National Safety Council estimates that a person’s lifetime odds of dying in a plane crash are 1 in 7,178, while his or her odds of dying in a car crash are 1 in 98.) This tip isn’t ideal for vacations planned months in advance, but it can be a good idea if spur-of-the-moment trips are your thing.
Service your car before setting out.
Before embarking on a long road trip, it’s important to make sure your car is working properly. This should include checking your tire pressure and getting your oil changed, if needed.
Give yourself extra time.
Allowing yourself extra time to get to your destination will help you deal with traffic jams and reduce the temptation to make up lost time by speeding—a known major cause of car accidents.
If you find yourself in the midst of heavy traffic, do your best to drive defensively. While you can’t control other drivers, you can adjust your own behavior to lower your risk of an accident. Make sure to follow the speed limit, leave an appropriate following distance, and wear your seat belt. Leave your phone out of reach, and give your map or GPS to a passenger.
We hope these tips help you have a safe Memorial Day weekend! From everyone at Casper & Casper in Cincinnati, Ohio, we wish you a happy holiday.