statistics are tragic, but true. More Americans
die on the nation’s
highways during the summer than during any other
time of the year. The period between the Saturday
before Memorial Day and Labor Day sees more drivers
on the road, and more deaths related to automobiles.
The dangers are real,
but so are your chances for survival when you
implement strategies that protect you while you’re
behind the wheel.
On the Road
Americans travel more
than 1 trillion miles during the 101 days – that’s
10.5 million more miles per month than other
months of the year (Bureau
of Transportation Statistics, 2001). Record
numbers of Americans will travel this Memorial
Day holiday, based on a new AAA survey: nearly
37 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more
from home this holiday – a 3.6% increase
from last year.
All those miles take a tragic toll: on average, 269
more people die in traffic fatalities each month
during the summer than in other months
of the year. Of the 25 deadliest days
on American roads in the past five years, 20
of them fell during the 101 days from Memorial
Day weekend to Labor Day, including
four of the top five (NHTSA, 1998-2002 data).
Children and the Highways
Children also are casualties of summer. Motor
vehicle deaths are the No. 1 cause of death of
children, and child motor vehicle deaths
are highest during the summer months.
Teen traffic deaths also peak in summer: a 2003
study of teen driving behavior conducted by Liberty
Mutual and Students Against Drunk Driving found
that July saw more deaths (644) of youth
ages 15-20 than any other month, followed
by June (600), September (590) and August (587)
Traffic deaths peak three
times during the 101 days – Memorial Day
weekend, the July 4 th holiday, and Labor Day
weekend. That alone marks the 101 days as a time
for special caution: The
average number of traffic deaths during holiday
periods are 156 per day compared to 117 per day
on non-holidays(NCSA, Research Note
March, 2004, DOT HS 809 718).
Most fatal crashes happen on two-lane,
undivided highways and occur between 3 p.m. and
6 p.m. Most fatal crashes involving
alcohol occur between midnight and 3 a.m.
more, American families tend to change their driving
habits in the summer – in
ways that heighten risk to children and teens.
Children are more likely to be on the road with
their parents in summer – parents who travel
longer distances, travel at night, and for longer
stretches. During the summer, families
with children were six times more likely to drive
home from a long day trip while fatigued than
people without children. And teen driving increases
dramatically in summer, when many teens drive at
night for the first time. Teen drivers
average 44% more hours behind the wheel each week
during the summer than during the school year,
and 47% of teen drivers drive at night, compared
to 6% during the school year(Liberty
Mutual/ SADD, 2003).
You CAN stay safe
The good news is there
are smart strategies that can drastically increase
of avoiding or surviving a crash this summer, as
the family stories here illustrate. Some are basic
good habits, such as buckling up and not drinking
and driving. Others include avoiding late night
driving marathons with children and not giving
new drivers excessive driving privileges all at
once just because summer is here.
We urge you to draw from
the strategies outlined in this web site and
develop your own family plan to survive – and enjoy – the
101 deadliest days on the road.
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