Are you hitting the road for Memorial Day weekend? Certainly it’s an American tradition to travel during what’s often called the first weekend of summer. But did you know that Memorial Day weekend is also the deadliest of all the holiday weekends to travel by car? You are four times more likely to die in a crash during Memorial Day weekend than you are during a regular weekend. It’s estimated that almost 40 million people drove more than 50 miles over the Memorial Day weekend of 2017.
Driving during any big holiday weekend is generally more deadly, but summertime produces the most fatalities. Labor Day weekend is the second-deadliest of holiday weekends, with Fourth of July weekend coming in a close third. The day of July 4 itself, however, is the single most dangerous day of celebration, probably because families are traveling to and from fireworks shows.
When the fatalities that occurred on the Memorial Day weekends of 2011 through 2015 were averaged together, 312 persons perished on U.S. roads during the short time span each year. Labor Day weekend for the same time span averaged 308 deaths, and Fourth of July weekend, 307.
Why Summer Holiday Weekends?
You might expect that the big holiday weekends, especially the ones more likely to have bad weather (we’re looking at you, Thanksgiving and Christmas) would suffer the greatest number of fatalities. But it’s been found that good weather is actually more dangerous. How can this be true?
Sunshine, warm temperatures, and the greater amounts of daylight can actually give you a false sense of security, according to a survey from Michelin for National Tire Safety Week. According to the study, over two-thirds of drivers (67 percent) felt safer on the road during summer.
It turns out that drivers tend to worry about things like their tires when the conditions are icy, not when the weather is warm and sunny. However, one of the biggest enemies of tires is heat. A driving safety expert at Michelin, Sarah Robinson, noted, , “Some of the most severe tire-related episodes are due to under-inflated tires in summer months.”
Need another reason why summer driving is more dangerous? According to the survey, 81 percent of respondents said they were less likely to drive carefully during the summertime. Seventy-two percent of respondents also said they paid less attention to other drivers than they did during the winter.
The South Carolina Situation
Memorial Day weekend kicks off what is known as the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer—roughly the number of days that stretch until Labor Day weekend—when the chances of dying in a traffic collision are highest. In South Carolina, 7 persons died on our roads over Memorial Day weekend in 2016; an estimated 13 died during the same time span in 2017.
Why are so many traffic fatalities occurring in our state during the summer? Lance Cpl. David Jones of the S.C. Highway Patrol thinks that the biggest contributing factors to deadly crashes are speed, impaired driving of all types, and not using seat belts. Lance Cpl. Jones pointed out that seat belt usage alone would save an astonishing number of lives. “A lot of these fatalities that occurred on our roadways could have walked away from these collisions had they simply buckled up. I’m constantly reminded on a weekly basis when I respond to collisions and see vehicles that had minimal damage but yet the driver was ejected or struck the steering wheel or struck the front windshield.”
If your Memorial Day plans take you on the road this year, remember that the most important thing you can pack for your holiday weekend is your patience. Don’t speed, don’t engage in aggressive behaviors, and, if you must let someone know you’ll be late, pull over before texting or calling them. Additionally, you can read more about 7 safety tips for summer driving.
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Have you been injured in a crash and suspect that negligence by the other party is involved? The South Carolina car accident lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm have represented injured South Carolinians in vehicular accident and personal injury suits since 1959. With our firm on the case, you can rest assured that you’ll get the personalized attention you deserve. South Carolina law entitles you to hold that party legally responsible for your medical expenses as well as any lost wages and other financial losses. You may also seek compensation for pain and suffering or the loss of comfort, care and companionship of a loved one. The deadline for filing a claim is running now, so call the Louthian Law Firm for help today or, if you prefer, you can fill out our confidential online contact form.