For the first time in four years, the National Safety Council has estimated less than 400 roadway fatalities over the Memorial Day weekend, which begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 24 and runs through 11:50 p.m. on Monday, May 27.
Specifically, the council is anticipating 380 lost lives and predicts that another 43,300 people may be seriously injured on the nation’s highways and byways.
The council credits the lower holiday weekend fatality estimate to an overall leveling off of roadway deaths. In 2018, an estimated 40,000 people lost their lives to car crashes — a 1% decline from 2017 (40,231 deaths) and 2016 (40,327 deaths). Prior to the past few years, the nation experienced several years of consecutive rises in roadway deaths.
Research shows that summer tends to be a deadly period on the roads, with warm-weather holidays being the most dangerous for drivers. When compared to Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day, the three summertime holidays — Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day — typically claim over 110 lives each day, the highest average per-day fatality rates.
Commercial drivers who will be on the job over the Memorial holiday should be reminded to be cautious on the roads. Experts offer the following advice:
Keep calm — People will be out and about headed to beaches and barbeques so be prepared for congestion and don't engage with hostile drivers.
Stay alert — Rising temperatures this time of year can make you drowsy so be extra vigilant about getting a good night’s sleep before hitting the road.
Be on the lookout for impaired motorists — Unfortunately, there will always be people who overindulgence on a holiday weekend and then get behind the wheel. Steer clear of any drivers who are veering out of their lane, driving under the speed limit, or signaling incorrectly — these are all possible signs of an impaired motorist.
Wear your seat belt — As always buckle up before you set out on your route.