Don’t Become a Statistic This Memorial Day Weekend
Most of us consider Memorial Day weekend to be the start of summer — the perfect time to visit family or enjoy the outdoors. About 35 million of us took to the road in 2017, driving more than 50 miles over the holiday weekend, and 2018 may be shaping up to surpass that figure. Don’t set out on your trip until you learn why Memorial Day weekend is the most dangerous one to be on the road.
The Riskiest Holiday Weekend All Year
Did you know that you are four times likelier to die in a Memorial Day weekend crash than during a regular weekend? Memorial Day weekend is the deadliest of the holiday weekends for road travel. The period from 2011 to 2015 averaged 312 fatalities in each of those years. The other two big summer holiday weekends—Labor Day and the Fourth of July—were close behind, with 308 deaths on average during Labor Day weekend and 307 over the Fourth of July weekend.
The second-least dangerous holiday weekend turns out to be New Year’s, with an average of 245 fatalities. Christmas weekend experiences the smallest number of holiday traffic deaths, at 231.
Warm Weather is Deadlier
You’d think that holiday weekends with the worse weather—Thanksgiving and Christmas, for example—would be responsible for more traffic deaths. But it turns out that summer driving is more likely to cause fatalities for a number of reasons:
- Good weather is more dangerous because it lulls us into feeling more secure while on the road. A study from Michelin Tires for National Tire Safety Week revealed that 67 percent of us believe we are safer driving during summer than during the winter.
- Beautiful weather can produce a false sense of security in a driver that leads to inattention. Four-fifths of those in the Michelin study admitted that they were less likely to drive cautiously in the summer than during other seasons. Additionally, 72 percent of drivers in the study responded that they were not as likely to pay attention to what other drivers were doing in the summer.
- Our tires are more vulnerable during hot weather because heat is more likely to cause blowouts, even in tires that appear to be in good shape. Under-inflated tires during the summer months are especially hazardous. Sarah Robinson, a Michelin driving safety expert, commented, “Heat is the enemy of tires.” Hundreds of people die in tire-related accidents each year; in 2015, 719 fatalities were due to tire-related crashes.
- On top of all these factors, summer is especially lethal for new drivers. A stretch called the “100 Deadliest Days” runs from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. For young people, nine of the ten deadliest days to drive happen from May through August.
Seven Suggestions for Road Safety
So, how can you stay safe on the road this Memorial Day weekend? The following tips can help:
- Leave yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going.
- Didn’t leave enough time and you’ll be late? Pull over to text or call family and friends. Avoid distracted driving at all costs.
- Do not drive when you are tired or under the influence of anything, including over-the-counter medications.
- Resist the urge to speed or drive aggressively. If someone is tailgating you or otherwise harassing you, pull over where you think it is safest and let them pass.
- Always drive defensively by keeping an eye out for those driving erratically or who might run lights or stop signs.
- Make sure everyone in the vehicle is wearing their seat belt or is securely fastened in a car seat or booster seat.
- Make sure your tires are road-worthy.
Finally, if you have a teen driver in the family, speak frankly with them about the dangers of driving under the influence or while distracted, and monitor their habits.
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