July 4th is the single day of the year with the most fatal traffic accidents in the U.S., and the three-day weekend averages 307 deaths per year, according to a recent evaluation of government Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data by ValuePenguin.
Now is a good time for fleet managers to remind drivers the roads can be especially hazardous during the July 4th holiday weekend and that defensive driving should be a top priority.
Drivers need to be vigilant when handling aggressive drivers who may be frustrated contending with traffic, new teen drivers hitting the roads but with little experience behind the wheel, and impaired drivers who are always more prevalent on the roads during summer holidays.
In fact, 38% of all motor vehicle deaths during the 2019 July 4th holiday were alcohol related, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). From 2015 to 2019, 512 drivers who were killed during the July 4th holiday had a blood alcohol content of .08 above.
Fleet drivers also need to be aware of how time of day affects collisions during summer holidays. For example, over the July 4th holiday period in 2019, nighttime was especially dangerous on America’s roads. According to NHTSA, almost four out of five (79%) fatal traffic crashes occurred between 6 p.m.–5:59 a.m. during the five-day period.
Here are a few tips to share with your drivers to help keep them safe during the July 4th weekend:
- Steer clear of impaired drivers — if another vehicle is speeding or swaying out of its lane, there’s a good chance an impaired driver is behind the wheel. Stay away from that vehicle and/or let a police officer know about it.
- Be patient — As traffic increases and temperatures rise, drivers may get hot under the collar, too. Keep your cool and never engage with a hostile motorist. Always remember, you are a professional — don’t even make eye contact with an aggravated driver.
- Stay hydrated and energized — The mercury is rising in so many places across the country. Make sure you get enough sleep, stay hydrated and energized, especially during challenging shifts like the July 4th weekend.
- Stay focused — As always, keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the steering wheel at all times. Distracted driving is the cause of far too many casualties — claiming over 3,100 lives in 2019 alone.
- Be cautious at night — Be extra vigilant if driving the nightshift over the holiday weekend. Slow down on curvy or challenging roads; use your brights when necessary, and take breaks if you feel even slightly drowsy. Nearly 700 people died in drowsy-driving related crashes in 2019 alone.