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Memorial Day: One of the Deadliest Days on the Road

Known as “The 100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers, the stretch between Memorial Day and Labor Day can be extremely dangerous for drivers of all ages. Memorial Day weekend is typically considered the start of summer, where people all over the U.S. will be celebrating with cookouts, BBQs, parties, and plenty of alcohol.

Thanks to cheap gas prices and a decent surge in the economic climate, more people are expected to be traveling during Memorial Day this year than in the past. According to AAA, a predicted 38 million people will be leaving their homes to enjoy the long weekend. That’s the highest number since 2005! How many of those people will be hitting the road? It’s estimated that the number of individuals driving will increase by 2% compared to previous years. That means about 9 out of 10 travelers will be driving.

On top of that, the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign will be running from May 23 to June 5, which means police officers will be out in droves looking to cite drivers for violations.

The Long Weekend Brings More Than Bad Traffic

When most people think of hitting the road to travel over a long weekend, they think of the dreaded traffic. Travelers can certainly expect to see a spike in traffic, with some trips expected to take 50% to 100% longer than average. While the frustration of traffic can be very real, not all Memorial Day statistics are so innocent.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that an average of 400 people are killed in traffic accidents and similar incidents during Memorial Day weekend. Typically, drivers can expect a 13% increase in traffic fatalities on this holiday weekend compared to an average weekend.

With this year anticipated to be the busiest for travel in the last decade or so, the risk of getting in a car accident is even higher. The National Safety Council estimates that there could be as many as 439 deaths and over 50,000 injuries caused by motor vehicle collisions this Memorial Day weekend. 2016 is projected to post the deadliest numbers since the 2009 Memorial Day holiday.

Drink Responsibly—It’s Not Just a Slogan

As families and friends gather together to enjoy Memorial Day, the food and booze can often flow freely. According to the NHTSA, 44% of traffic fatalities over Memorial Day weekend involve alcohol. That’s a staggering number. Teen drinking can also play another major factor in the number of drunk driving accidents. With police out in full force, there will likely be a spike in DUI or alcohol-related arrests this holiday weekend as well.

You can still have plenty of fun (aka cold ones) over Memorial Day weekend—you just want to make sure you are doing so responsibly.

Here are four simple steps you should remind yourself and your friends to follow:

  • Plan ahead – Make sure you have a ride home or have a place to crash ahead of time.
  • Limit the alcohol – If you’re a host, play it smart. Keep your guests safe and limit the amount of drinks you provide.
  • Keep the food coming – Whether you’re a party host or guest, make sure you have plenty of food and snacks throughout the festivities.
  • Report drunk drivers – If you’re on the road, leaving a restaurant or bar, or any other place and notice a drunk driver, report it.

The statistics don’t lie. Memorial Day weekend can be extremely dangerous for travelers hitting the road. Do your part to keep the roads safe and make sure your holiday weekend is memorable for all the right reasons!