Approximately 398 people could lose their lives and another 45,300 could suffer serious injuries on the nation’s roadways over the Labor Day holiday weekend, according to National Safety Council estimates.
The council's estimate is the lowest it has issued for the three-day holiday period since 2015. A year ago, the council estimated 420 deaths for the 2018 Labor Day weekend. Final 2018 numbers haven't been made available by the council.
The Labor Day holiday begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30, and ends at 11:59 pm on Monday, Sept. 2.
The lower than usual fatality estimate reflects an overall national trend that shows roadway fatalities are down 3% through the first six months of 2019 compared with the same timeframe in 2018.
Labor Day weekend ranked as the second most deadliest holiday on the roadways based on ValuePenguin’s review of Fatality Analysis Reporting System data showing which holidays had the most fatal car accidents (where at least one person was killed), per year between 2011 and 2015. Memorial Day weekend took the top spot.
Alcohol use often plays a role in fatal crashes during Labor Day weekend, notes the Council. In 2017, for example, 36% of fatal crashes during the holiday period involved an alcohol-impaired driver or motorcycle rider.
To help combat the problem, The National Highway Traffic Safety Association recently launched its 2019 national impaired-driving enforcement campaign, which runs through the Labor Day holiday weekend. For the duration of the initiative, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers across the nation will be on heightened alert for alcohol- and drug-impaired drivers. To support the law enforcement effort, a media campaign targeted to consumers is underway and delivering a zero-tolerance message to anyone considering imbibing before or while driving.