Memorial Day is the start of the traditional summer time-period, and all across the country, folks are firing up their grills, getting ready for the opening of pool season, and anticipating warm-weather vacations. In Florida, our weather is already warm but we share something in common with the rest of the country about Memorial Day: Americans are much more likely to die in a car crash over Memorial Day weekend than any other holiday weekend.
A new study by personal finance website ValuePenguin looked at statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) evaluating which holiday weekends are the most dangerous for those on American Highways. And even though New Year’s Eve is widely regarded as a notorious drinking holiday, it was Memorial Day that led the way in fatal crashes.
You are more than four times as likely to die in a traffic accident over the Memorial Day weekend as over a regular weekend.
Here’s how the figures break down: Between 2011 and 2015, Memorial Day weekend averaged 312 fatal accidents across the country. It’s worth noting that these statistics aren’t looking at total fatalities, but rather the total number of wrecks in which at least one person died.
Why so high? In short– more travelers on the road.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) forecasts that 39.3 million Americans will be traveling 50 miles or more over the 2017 Memorial Day weekend. Most of those traveling, about 88%, will be driving in automobiles.
Said AAA Senior Vice President 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.”
It is likely no accident that Memorial Day also leads in drunk-driving fatal wrecks as well, and certainly no accident that law enforcement officers all across Florida have sharpened their DUI detection skills.
The Florida Public Safety Institute funded a course for police to improve their ability to spot and catch drunk drivers by improving their knowledge of field sobriety tests. With the Florida legal limit for blood alcohol at .08, during a holiday weekend, there are going to be some individuals who try and push the envelope. Instructor Luis Blasco says certain drinkers are most likely to drive drunk:
“It’s usually those people who are the .06’s the .08’s that are in that risk taker mode.”
Blasco says Memorial Day weekend brings more tourists—and more potential drunk drivers—to South Florida.
“Hopefully we’re bringing down our crashes and fatalities,” Blasco said.
But if history is any indication, Memorial Day 2017 is going to be a bad time to get in a car if you have had any amount of alcohol whatsoever. And even if you haven’t been drinking, watch out for those who may have been.
Stay safe. Your life is more important than getting to your holiday destination.
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Memorial Day is the Deadliest Day for Motorists