Safe Travels During the Holiday Weekend

American flag on hood of pickup truck

A sure sign that summer is well underway is the Independence Day holiday. Celebrating the day the 13 colonial delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence has been a tradition dating back to the 18th century and has been a national holiday since 1941. This year July 4th falls on a Sunday, so many workers will celebrate a three-day weekend with the observed holiday occurring on Monday the 5th. That’s the good news. What’s the bad news you might ask?

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 482 Americans will lose their lives in motor vehicle accidents over the upcoming holiday weekend. There is uncertainty in any prediction like this, but the NSC uses a 90% confidence interval for this estimate. Additionally, the current prediction could be somewhat uncertain due to 2021 environmental factors. According to the NSC website, “Because of the unprecedented impact the COVID-19 recovery is having on social activities, the uncertainty of this year’s estimate is increased.

Sadly, the NSC predictions have been extremely accurate over many years. They’ve become experts at predicting deaths over all the major holidays with uncanny accuracy. So, our job for this holiday weekend is to travel safely and make this fatality prediction extremely overinflated!

Given the data it is clear that driving a motor vehicle is likely the most hazardous activity we engage in on any given day. Fatality numbers actually increased significantly in 2020 despite the fact that many fewer miles were driven during the year. We are killing 100 people per day on the highways, equivalent to crashing a full 737 every other day! It’s time to reverse that trend by doing everything we can do to “Arrive Alive.”

The country continues to recover from the pandemic with more states eliminating restrictions. This means more businesses are open, more celebrations are taking place, and more traffic will be on the roads. Independence Day 2021 will certainly look different from 2020 and by and large that’s a good thing. Planning your long weekend appropriately is the best way to avoid disaster. No one wants to become one of those predicted fatalities. Consider these recommendations: 

  • If you’re planning to travel significant distance over the holiday, plan ahead and allow extra time to reach your destination. AAA predicts this to be the second-highest Independence Day travel volume on record, nearly 40% increase over last year. Excessive speed is the most common cause of traffic accidents and with all the traffic on the roads you won’t really save much time anyway. Take your time and enjoy the summer scenery.
  • Get plenty of rest before you get behind the wheel. Fatigue is insidious and another common cause of collisions. Long summer days are great but be sure you’re alert and ready to tackle the demands of driving in all that holiday traffic. Check out these tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to avoid problems with drowsy driving.
  • Break downs on the highway are not only an inconvenience, they are also extremely hazardous. Make sure your car is ready for the trip and you’ve got the necessary emergency gear should you encounter a problem. To see the NSC suggestions for an emergency supply kit click here.
  • Lastly, we all know that driving and alcohol don’t mix well. Over the years the percentage of fatal accidents involving alcohol has been dropping. It’s currently around 28%. Sadly, over this holiday weekend the percentage is likely to be near 40%. Have fun at the parties and barbeques but plan appropriately and have designated drivers standing by if needed.

Traffic safety is everyone’s responsibility. If you have the long weekend away from work, please safely celebrate this nation’s birth. If you are working over the weekend, please keep focused on workplace safety in all aspects, but especially in transportation. Let’s be sure we’re all back to work on Tuesday. Best wishes and a happy holiday to all from the MEMIC team.