The National Safety Council estimates that 307 people will be killed and 37,200 seriously injured in traffic crashes during the three-day Christmas holiday period — the highest estimate the group has issued for a three-day Christmas holiday period since 2009.
The National Safety Council also estimates 346 will be killed and 41,900 seriously injured during the three-day New Year’s holiday period.
An estimated total of 405 lives could be saved if everyone wore seat belts during these two holidays, according to the council.
"Too many celebrations are marred by tragedies during the holiday season," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, the council's president and CEO. "When you are traveling, remember that you are your car’s most important safety feature. Getting to zero deaths on our roadways requires each of us to be safer behind the wheel."
The two holiday periods fall at the end of a particularly deadly year on the roads. Preliminary council estimates indicate traffic deaths are up significantly through the first 10 months of 2015 compared with the same time period in 2014.
The council offers these tips to ensure a safer holiday season include:
- Wear a seat belt on every trip.
- Designate an alcohol- and drug-free driver or arrange alternate transportation.
- Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue.
- Never use a cell phone behind the wheel, even hands-free.
- Don’t allow teens to drive with their friends. A single young passenger can increase a teen driver’s fatal crash risk 44 percent.
- Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them. My Car Does What can help drivers understand the ins and outs of features such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning systems and backup cameras.