Everyone loves roast turkey, brightly wrapped presents, and champagne toasts, but the best part of any holiday is spending time with loved ones. For a lot of families, that means traveling.
Because so many people hit the road for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, accident rates spike around these days. Unfortunately, more congestion means more opportunities for collisions, and motorists who fail to exercise additional caution when driving in holiday traffic put everyone around them at risk of a catastrophic crash.
Experts estimate that driver error is at least partially responsible for more than 90 percent of auto wrecks. This is one of the main reasons why the number of motorists on the road correlates to the number of accidents that occur.
More drivers mean more errors, and at some point, one of those errors could have fatal consequences. Additionally, because some of the biggest family celebrations take place during the winter months, holiday travelers must often contend with foul weather and poor road conditions.
Read on to learn about some of the deadliest weekends for motorists on U.S. roads:
1. Memorial Day
The precise statistics vary from year to year, but in general, drivers are four times more likely to die in a collision over Memorial Day weekend than they are on a regular Saturday or Sunday. Between 2011 and 2015, there was an average of 312 fatal traffic crashes annually around this holiday.
2. Labor Day
Labor Day is another busy time for road travel. People all over the country use the three-day holiday to get in one last trip before summer ends. Researchers determined there was an average of 308 traffic fatalities every Labor Day weekend between 2011 and 2015.
3. Independence Day
Regardless of which day of the week July 4 is on, families enjoy spending it together. As a result, the roads are always more congested around Independence Day. During the same five-year period mentioned above, there was an average of 307 car wreck fatalities around July 4 annually.
Easter may have originally been a religious holiday, but employers all over the country often give their workers a three-day weekend for the occasion. Sadly, those who opt to spend the time off with loved ones are at risk of getting in a devastating accident en route.
Christmas is one of the busiest travel times of the year. Experts estimate that more than 100 million Americans traveled between December 23, 2017 and January 1, 2018, which is roughly 30 percent of the population. Of those individuals, more than 97 million reached their destination via car.
6. New Year’s Eve
Families may not venture hundreds of miles from home to be with loved ones on New Year’s Eve, but everyone who does hit the road for a night out is at risk of getting into a collision with an impaired driver. The only foolproof way to avoid a drunk driving crash on New Year’s Eve is to stay home.
Ice and snow also pose serious hazards for motorists around Christmas and New Year’s Eve. If traveling to see family is part of your holiday tradition, try timing your trip so you avoid the worst of the traffic, as well as any foul weather.
Likewise, if you always host a big party on Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, make sure your guests all have a means of getting home safely. Otherwise, offer them a spare bed, couch, or air mattress on which to crash after the festivities. This will help reduce the number of impaired motorists on the roads and ensure your friends stay safe until they are well enough to drive home.