Is Memorial Day the Worst Holiday for Driving in Virginia?

Memorial Day weekend heralds the unofficial start of the summer. The holiday brings many people onto the roads. Unfortunately, the increased traffic too often results in a spike in car accidents.

The AAA travel club predicts that Memorial Day 2015 will feature the highest traffic volume in 10 years. An estimated 33 million travelers are expected to hit the roads. Cheap gas prices – the lowest since 2009 – may contribute to this increase in traffic.

In a statement issued last year about Memorial Day weekend, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported there were 377 crash-related fatalities in the U.S. during the holiday period in 2012.

In Virginia, the Highway Safety Office’s 2013 Traffic Crash Facts reports nine fatalities over the four-day weekend.

“Most traffic crashes, injuries, and deaths are preventable when drivers and passengers buckle up, drive the speed limit, don’t drive distracted, and never drink and drive,” the president of the Virginia Sheriff’s Association Board of Directors said in the kickoff of Virginia’s Drive to Save Lives campaign last May.

Holiday Driving in Virginia

Although it is more dangerous to be on the roads during Memorial Day weekend than it is on non-holiday weekends, it actually is not the most dangerous holiday period for driving.

Fatalities in car accidents in Virginia based on Department of Motor Vehicles records from 2004 to 2014 show:

Holiday Crashes Per Year
Thanksgiving 157 14
Labor Day 137 12
Memorial Day 129 12
Fourth of July 136 12
Christmas 103 9
New Year’s 91 8

The NHTSA and AAA offer these safe driving tips for Memorial Day weekend. As you can see, they apply throughout the year as well:

  • Buckle up – Everybody in your vehicle should wear a seat belt every time they are riding or driving your car. Wearing a seat belt is also the best defense against injury in a drunk-driving related crash.
  • Keep children safe – Make sure car seats and booster seats are properly installed and that any children riding with you are in the car seat or booster seat that is best-suited to protect them.
  • Don’t drive after drinking – Drunk driving deaths spike during the holidays. Every 51 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies in an alcohol-impaired-driving crash. Be responsible – don’t drink and drive. If you plan to drink, choose a designated driver to remain totally sober.
  • Relax and avoid aggressive driving – As many as 56 percent of fatal crashes involve one or more unsafe driving behaviors typically associated with aggressive driving, including speeding, tailgating, unsafe passing and making frequent lane changes. Speeding is involved in nearly one in three deadly crashes in the U.S.
  • Rest before travel and avoid drowsy driving – Get plenty of sleep (at least six hours) the night before a long trip. Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles. Stop driving completely if you become sleepy. Fatigue adversely affects reaction time, judgment and vision. People who are very sleepy behave in similar ways to drivers who are drunk.
  • Don’t drive while distracted – Never use a cell phone while driving, whether it is a hand-held or hands-free device. Remember that eating, talking to passengers, reading maps – anything that can take your eyes off of the road – is distracted driving and can be potentially deadly.

If you are involved in a car accident that was caused by a negligent driver, protect your legal rights – including the right to be fully compensated for your losses – by calling Geoff McDonald & Associates or connecting with us online.