According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2013 and 2015, 92,424 fatal crashes occurred resulting in 100,729 fatalities and 7,094,000 injuries. At certain times of the year, such as holidays and summertime, the numbers spike with a higher volume of road travelers, including a significantly higher number of alcohol-impaired drivers, causing nearly twice the number of automotive deaths during summer months than during the rest of the year combined. The summer and early fall are the most dangerous times of year on the nation’s roads, according to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) analysis. Two important holidays fall within this timeframe for increased travel – Memorial Day and Labor Day. This period is often referred to as the 100 Deadliest Days for teens, summer vacation for most students and the time most will drink and drive. Fatalities also are higher on weekends and in the late afternoon and evenings. The trends reflect the fact that Americans drive the most miles during the warm summer months. Weekends and certain holidays with increased alcohol consumption also see spikes in deaths.
Traveling on a major holiday is risky for many reasons. In general, there are more people on the roads, and drivers may be navigating areas beyond their regular commuting routes. There’s a high incidence of alcohol use, which sharply raises the risk of crashing. IIHS Research and Statistical Services
According to the AAA annual forecast, 39.4 million people are expected to travel more than 50 miles from their homes over the Memorial Day weekend, the highest in 12 years. Of these, 34.6 million Americans (88.1 percent of travelers) will drive to their destinations, an increase of 2.4 percent over last year. But Memorial Day weekend is not the most fatal for drivers. According to IIHS, on average, more people die in motor vehicle crashes on Independence Day than any other day of the year, with motorcycles and alcohol both being big contributors to the Fourth of July toll. In an analysis of the five most recent years of available fatal crash data indicates, IIHS researchers found that each year on the Independence Day holiday in the U.S., an average of 118.4 lives are lost in crashes, making it the most consistently deadly day of the year across the five-year study period. This is 28 more deaths than the overall average daily toll during 2010-14. The second worst day for crash deaths during 2010-14 was January 1, with an average toll of 118.2 deaths – almost as high as the Fourth of July.
Alcohol is a factor in a greater proportion of crash deaths on both July 4 and January 1. Forty-seven percent of the deaths on July 4 and 62 percent on January 1 involved at least one driver, pedestrian or bicyclist with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08g/dL. The average across all days in these years was 35 percent for deaths in crashes involving alcohol.