This year, some 450 people may be killed on U.S. highways and byways during the Memorial Day weekend, according to National Safety Council (NSC) estimates. That’s up from the 415 deaths the NSC estimated for the 2021 Memorial Day holiday period.
Moreover, for 2020, the NSC estimated 366 roadway fatalities, but actual deaths for Memorial Weekend turned out to be significantly higher with 397 lost lives.
The nation’s roads are getting more dangerous by the day. Over 100 people are killed in motor vehicle crashes every day. Moreover, the National Traffic Safety Administration just released the latest fatality estimates for 2021 and the picture is dire. Some 42,915 people lost their lives in collisions in 2021 — the highest number since 2005.
Memorial Day, the official kick-off of summer, extends from 6 p.m. Friday, May 27 to 11:59 p.m. Monday, May 30 and is one of the most dangerous driving weekends of the year. Yet many fleet drivers will be behind the wheel doing their jobs.
Now is a good time to for fleet operators to remind their drivers to be especially vigilant and to practice defensive driving strategies. Here is some advice to share with your drivers.
Avoid hostile drivers. As families hit the road for beaches and backyard barbeques, there is bound to be plenty of traffic. Congestion can make tempers flare, so expect to encounter some aggressive drivers. Fleet drivers should remember to keep their cool. Never engage with hostile drivers who tailgate, continually honk horns, yell out the window, or make aggressive gestures. Do not react and do not make eye contact.
Spot the signs of impairment. Memorial Day means there will be plenty of celebrations involving alcohol. If you encounter a driver that constantly swerves out of his lane or hits the brakes too often, there is a good chance that driver is impaired. Move as far away from impaired drivers as possible. You can also pull over and report the problem driver to the police.
Drive distraction-free. As always, stay focused on the road. Don't eat, fiddle with the radio, or use your cell phone while behind the wheel. Distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,142 people in 2020 alone. On a holiday weekend, the roads will be busier than ever, which means it is more important than ever to avoid all distractions.
Buckle up. Before you hit the road, make sure you buckle up. Seat belts save lives.